Friday, October 29th 2021

Intel "Alder Lake-S" Comes in a 6+0 Core Die Variant

Intel's 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake-S" silicon apparently comes in two variants based on core count. The first one is a larger variant with 8 P cores and 8 E cores, while the second variant is a visibly smaller die with only 6 P cores, no E cores. This was revealed by an MSI Insider video presentation where pictures of LGA1700 packages with the two die types were shown off.

MSI also confirmed die-sizes and dimensions of the two. The larger C0 die measures 10.5 mm x 20.5 mm, working out to 215.25 mm² area. The smaller H0 die measures 10.5 mm x 15.5 mm, and a die area of 162.75 mm². The H0 silicon completely lacks "Gracemont" E-core clusters, and physically features six "Golden Cove" P cores. It's possible that given the 3 MB L3 slice size on the larger C0 silicon, the smaller H0 silicon physically features 18 MB of shared L3 cache.
Apparently the 12th Gen Core i5 series will have two classes of SKUs. One based on the C0 silicon, with 6+4 (P+E) configuration, and the other based on the H0 silicon, with 6+0 core configuration. The already launched Core i5-12600K/KF are 6+4 core, and it's expected that the i5-12600 (non-K) will have the same core-count, too. The lower Core i5 SKUs, such as the i5-12400 and i5-12400F, could be 6+0 core. Intel probably adopted this segmentation within the Core i5 lineup to ensure that the $170-$190 SKUs, such as the i5-12400/F don't cannibalize sales of the i5-12600/K/KF/F. The company had been carrying out similar segmentation within the Core i3 series in the past few generations, where the i3-xx100 and i3-xx300 series SKUs are differentiated with L3 cache sizes.
We recently spotted an i5-12400 engineering sample that confirms this core-configuration. The decision to create a smaller die for desktop could be purely economics-driven. The lower end of the Core i5 series, the Core i3 series, Pentium, and Celeron, sell in high volumes, and it makes sense for Intel to use physically smaller dies to maximize wafer utilization on its latest Intel 7 node (10 nm Enhanced SuperFin). It's also possible that the 12th Gen Core i3 series will be carved out from this silicon, by disabling two of the six P cores.
Source: MSI Insider (YouTube)
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64 Comments on Intel "Alder Lake-S" Comes in a 6+0 Core Die Variant

#26
Darmok N Jalad
Just seems really weird that these SKUs aren’t all some configuration of P+E cores. It waters down the entire product line, IMO. I figured they’d do something like 2P+4E for i3, 4P+4E for i5, and i7 and i9 having 6P and 8P, respectively. I mean, if you’re marketing this, you have to play up the value of the E cores. Because they are less performant than the E-cores, they would emphasize energy savings. Leaving them out of the lesser lines makes it look like saving energy is exclusive for the premium buyer. I guess if they did what I mention, we’d end up with performance regressions over 11 series? Just seems to devalue the purpose and merits of the E-cores, IMO.
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#27
milewski1015
atomsymbolCould you please use proper terminology instead of "... don't cannibalize sales of ..." in your articles? Thanks.
How would you suggest the author phrase it?

That sentence makes perfect sense to me: The author is postulating that the product segmentation is set up so that the xx400 SKUs don't take away sales from the xx600 SKUs. Not sure what "proper terminology" you're referring to here
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#28
Vayra86
Darmok N JaladJust seems really weird that these SKUs aren’t all some configuration of P+E cores. It waters down the entire product line, IMO. I figured they’d do something like 2P+4E for i3, 4P+4E for i5, and i7 and i9 having 6P and 8P, respectively. I mean, if you’re marketing this, you have to play up the value of the E cores. Because they are less performant than the E-cores, they would emphasize energy savings. Leaving them out of the lesser lines makes it look like saving energy is exclusive for the premium buyer. I guess if they did what I mention, we’d end up with performance regressions over 11 series? Just seems to devalue the purpose and merits of the E-cores, IMO.
I am of the exact same opinion and it damages Alder Lake as an architecture too. Market share matters for the technology going forward. It just looks... messy, not credible.
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#29
owen10578
I would like an overclockable 6+0 CPU please intel. Thank you.
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#30
BSim500
Vayra86I am of the exact same opinion and it damages Alder Lake as an architecture too. Market share matters for the technology going forward. It just looks... messy, not credible.
It's really no different to Rocket Lake where the lower end i3-11xxx chips were just rebadged Comet Lake's. Personally I think it's a good thing these chips exist as it'll make it a lot easier to differentiate where the performance gains are coming from (do you really need more "energy" cores, or is a large chunk of the claimed gains coming from just IPC gains of the larger cores + DDR5) in real world applications and games.
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#31
Wirko
Time to stop talking about that Alder Lake, guys. Ark says that the new CPUs are "Products formerly Alder Lake". I already forgot completely what Alder Lake was, I can barely remember ever hearing that name, it must have been many years ago.
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#32
Wolfkin
Darmok N JaladJust seems really weird that these SKUs aren’t all some configuration of P+E cores. It waters down the entire product line, IMO. I figured they’d do something like 2P+4E for i3, 4P+4E for i5, and i7 and i9 having 6P and 8P, respectively. I mean, if you’re marketing this, you have to play up the value of the E cores. Because they are less performant than the E-cores, they would emphasize energy savings. Leaving them out of the lesser lines makes it look like saving energy is exclusive for the premium buyer. I guess if they did what I mention, we’d end up with performance regressions over 11 series? Just seems to devalue the purpose and merits of the E-cores, IMO.
I'd be very surprised if Intel haven't tried that during development.
What I suspect it comes down to is what combination gives the best performance to stay competitive vs AMD and still not go absolutely overboard with powerdraw.

From what I can read from early numbers and rumours, it doesn't look that brilliant for Intel.
Intel seems to have the edge in single core performance, but in multi core it's a different matter. Intel looks to be able to beat AMD's Ryzen 5800x and maybe 5900x, and come close to 5950x ... as long as Intel can run in High Power mode, but as soon as the heat goes up and clocks go down AMD has the upper hand, and it looks like Intel can only do this at a significant higher powerdraw.

But that is only the impression I get from early numbers, we will soon see what's what when reviews drop come Thursday.
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#33
mechtech
Alder Lake NDA lifted on a monday. I boycot purchases from anyone that lifts NDA's on a monday.......................

I want my reviews to review on the weekend :)
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#34
Crackong
dj-electricBoth of these claims are entirely wrong. I'm not allowed to tell you why (yet), but you can take or leave my opinion on it
There are not many options in this one.
Intel demand Win11 scheduler for a reason

The Win10 scheduler problem must be either one of these:

1. Focus on the E cores and leave the P cores idle
2. Focus on the P cores and leave the E cores idle
3. Complete mess in scheduler choosing between P and E cores

You kinda spoiled the entire picture by saying No.1 is wrong.

No.3 seems like a logical guess for why Intel refuses to "Leak" any Win10 related scores.
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#35
RJARRRPCGP
CrackongThere are not many options in this one.
Intel demand Win11 scheduler for a reason

The Win10 scheduler problem must be either one of these:

1. Focus on the E cores and leave the P cores idle
2. Focus on the P cores and leave the E cores idle
3. Complete mess in scheduler choosing between P and E cores

You kinda spoiled the entire picture by saying No.1 is wrong.

No.3 seems like a logical guess for why Intel refuses to "Leak" any Win10 related scores.
Sounds like Intel's version of FX! (the scheduler) Like when AMD wasn't using SMT. Like the cluster-threaded-tech that AMD used for FX, where the modules were interpreted as cores by software.
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#36
Darmok N Jalad
Look for Lakefield reviews to see how poorly x86 big.LITTLE performs on Windows 10. I recall one reviewer saying that when running a single thread benchmark (Cinebench), the load would jump around on all the CPUs and not stick to the one performance core, resulting in poor performance. I can’t see how Adler Lake would do much better. With Lakefield’s short lifespan and extremely limited number of devices that used it (2 devices made production, but Surface Neo never did), Lakefield might have just existed to give MS and Intel something to work with for the new scheduler. It was clearly a bad product that most OEMs never used.
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#37
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Darmok N JaladLook for Lakefield reviews to see how poorly x86 big.LITTLE performs on Windows 10. I recall one reviewer saying that when running a single thread benchmark (Cinebench), the load would jump around on all the CPUs and not stick to the one performance core, resulting in poor performance. I can’t see how Adler Lake would do much better. With Lakefield’s short lifespan and extremely limited number of devices that used it (2 devices made production, but Surface Neo never did), Lakefield might have just existed to give MS and Intel something to work with for the new scheduler. It was clearly a bad product that most OEMs never used.
I have no problem throwing the Windows scheduler under the bus for that.
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#38
seth1911
No reason to go with Alderlake if u wont buy a K or high price like a 12600 it would be,
better way is to take a Socket 1200, 10400 or 11400 and even cheapter boards too.

In the class where are E Cores usefull they dont bring them (non k 65w, 35w), but with 125w u get E Cores :kookoo:
Is there any logic by Intel ?, it seems not.
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#39
RandallFlagg
Darmok N JaladLook for Lakefield reviews to see how poorly x86 big.LITTLE performs on Windows 10. I recall one reviewer saying that when running a single thread benchmark (Cinebench), the load would jump around on all the CPUs and not stick to the one performance core, resulting in poor performance. I can’t see how Adler Lake would do much better. With Lakefield’s short lifespan and extremely limited number of devices that used it (2 devices made production, but Surface Neo never did), Lakefield might have just existed to give MS and Intel something to work with for the new scheduler. It was clearly a bad product that most OEMs never used.
Lakefield got a boost with Win 11 - only 2% in single core but about 5.5% in multi-core.


For big.LITTLE these differences between Win10 and 11 are significant, but others not so much. We're talking losing 2 out of 187 FPS for Win 11 on Zen 3 - and no the patch didn't make any difference in the aggregate.

For that matter, Rocket Lake lost 1 FPS. That kind of difference is really in the margin of error (185 vs 187 on Zen 5900X, and 174 vs 173 on RKL) :

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#40
tabascosauz
CrackongThere are not many options in this one.
Intel demand Win11 scheduler for a reason

The Win10 scheduler problem must be either one of these:

1. Focus on the E cores and leave the P cores idle
2. Focus on the P cores and leave the E cores idle
3. Complete mess in scheduler choosing between P and E cores

You kinda spoiled the entire picture by saying No.1 is wrong.

No.3 seems like a logical guess for why Intel refuses to "Leak" any Win10 related scores.
Darmok N JaladLook for Lakefield reviews to see how poorly x86 big.LITTLE performs on Windows 10. I recall one reviewer saying that when running a single thread benchmark (Cinebench), the load would jump around on all the CPUs and not stick to the one performance core, resulting in poor performance. I can’t see how Adler Lake would do much better. With Lakefield’s short lifespan and extremely limited number of devices that used it (2 devices made production, but Surface Neo never did), Lakefield might have just existed to give MS and Intel something to work with for the new scheduler. It was clearly a bad product that most OEMs never used.
According to Ian, the Win10 problem is that it's not quite as aware as 11 of "efficiency" in addition to load and capability:

www.anandtech.com/show/16959/intel-innovation-alder-lake-november-4th/3

Alder Lake isn't quite the same as Lakefield in that the hardware-based Thread Director means that it technically isn't wholly at the mercy of Microsoft like Lakefield was.

Allegedly, the core switching based on window focus goes away when you use a High Performance power plan. I guess it's time for Intel users to share in the angst of Windows' load balancing shenanigans.

Unfortunately, if Ian is right, the end result looks much the same as Ryzen 3000/5000 and Lakefield. The Windows scheduler still reigns supreme over Thread Director, the latter only "suggests" changes to the former. Same deal as Ryzen where the first ranked CPPC core may be significantly better quality, but Windows demands two "first-ranked" cores to be available, and will still use Core 0 even if CPPC says it's dead last quality, whenever it pleases.

And much like AGESA, it looks like Thread Director's logic isn't dynamic (doesn't learn as it goes with say DL), but might be possible to continuously improve through microcode updates, much like AGESA. So we could either see both companies focus on long-term firmware support, or Intel goes back to its old ways and Alder Lake quickly falls into neglect in favour of the next "latest and greatest".
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#41
Vayra86
seth1911No reason to go with Alderlake if u wont buy a K or high price like a 12600 it would be,
better way is to take a Socket 1200, 10400 or 11400 and even cheapter boards too.

In the class where are E Cores usefull they dont bring them (non k 65w, 35w), but with 125w u get E Cores :kookoo:
Is there any logic by Intel ?, it seems not.
The logic is, that stack is built to win benchmarks where it matters, and the rest is lucky to get an IPC bump.

Not bad. But nothing game changing either and it speaks volumes of Intel's faith/long term plan with this stuff. They're in wait and see mode, I reckon, while its the best they can come up with at the same time.

But then again, mainstream desktop is also not the best view of the market, let's face it. We're in no-mans land here, DIYing with our PCs. No allegiance to anyone. We get scraps and leftovers, which is ADL-S.
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#42
RandallFlagg
So, interestingly, stumbled on something about that latency issue.

Apparently it hits not so much when you do a fresh install of Win 11, but when you subsequently swap out to a different AMD CPU.

This may explain why some people are reporting really bad results, and others are reporting no or negligible differences.

Edit: Farther down he is tracing this back to what appears to also be Radeon drivers affecting Win 11.
So, have to swap an AMD CPU and have an AMD GPU, or so it appears right now.




Posted on Reply
#43
Crackong
RandallFlaggSo, interestingly, stumbled on something about that latency issue.

Apparently it hits not so much when you do a fresh install of Win 11, but when you subsequently swap out to a different AMD CPU.

This may explain why some people are reporting really bad results, and others are reporting no or negligible differences.

Edit: Farther down he is tracing this back to what appears to also be Radeon drivers affecting Win 11.
So, have to swap an AMD CPU and have an AMD GPU, or so it appears right now.
What a nightmare for reviewers.

Another Windows 11 exclusive.

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#44
xenocide
RandallFlaggSo, interestingly, stumbled on something about that latency issue.

Apparently it hits not so much when you do a fresh install of Win 11, but when you subsequently swap out to a different AMD CPU.

This may explain why some people are reporting really bad results, and others are reporting no or negligible differences.

Edit: Farther down he is tracing this back to what appears to also be Radeon drivers affecting Win 11.
So, have to swap an AMD CPU and have an AMD GPU, or so it appears right now.




Shouldn't the conclusion there be the issue is with the Adrenalin driver, not Windows 11? Unless there is some proof that Windows 10 with/without display drivers has notably lower latency. I'm also unsure how increased L3 Cache and DRAM latency would leader to a 10-20% performance loss in games, which is traditionally not an activity bound by memory speed.
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#45
RandallFlagg
xenocideShouldn't the conclusion there be the issue is with the Adrenalin driver, not Windows 11? Unless there is some proof that Windows 10 with/without display drivers has notably lower latency. I'm also unsure how increased L3 Cache and DRAM latency would leader to a 10-20% performance loss in games, which is traditionally not an activity bound by memory speed.
Yes, I think that is where he was going. Some kind of interplay between swapping AMD CPU, and the new AMD GPU drivers, and upgrading Win 11, resulted in a latency penalty.

Tom's did a bunch of tests that showed effectively no difference between Win 11 and Win 10 with Zen 3, but they probably have a cleaner process than the majority youtube reviewers, i.e. clean install or even separate but identical test rigs with just different CPU and a totally clean install on each and so on. Youtubers having fewer resources are more likely to be re-using the same gear and taking shortcuts without totally clean installs, so they are stumbling onto this.
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#46
ratirt
xenocideShouldn't the conclusion there be the issue is with the Adrenalin driver, not Windows 11? Unless there is some proof that Windows 10 with/without display drivers has notably lower latency. I'm also unsure how increased L3 Cache and DRAM latency would leader to a 10-20% performance loss in games, which is traditionally not an activity bound by memory speed.
Why Adrenalin driver? He said the latency of the CPU memory is growing so it is not Adrenalin driver related. It is windows related. Somehow when you swap a CPU windows does not seem to handle that change correctly. At least that is how I get it.
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#47
Crackong
xenocideShouldn't the conclusion there be the issue is with the Adrenalin driver, not Windows 11? Unless there is some proof that Windows 10 with/without display drivers has notably lower latency. I'm also unsure how increased L3 Cache and DRAM latency would leader to a 10-20% performance loss in games, which is traditionally not an activity bound by memory speed.
Same setup, same process, only Windows 11 had issues.
Why would it be an Adrenalin driver problem?
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#48
HenrySomeone
xenocideShouldn't the conclusion there be the issue is with the Adrenalin driver, not Windows 11? Unless there is some proof that Windows 10 with/without display drivers has notably lower latency. I'm also unsure how increased L3 Cache and DRAM latency would leader to a 10-20% performance loss in games, which is traditionally not an activity bound by memory speed.
That's what happens when you are an AMD-centric channel and use 6900xt (I presume) instead of the actual fastest gpu - the 3090
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#49
Crackong
HenrySomeoneThat's what happens when you are an AMD-centric channel and use 6900xt (I presume) instead of the actual fastest gpu - the 3090
3090 the fastest?

In 4k, YES
1080p, Nope
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#50
watzupken
Its obvious that the bigger die chip goes to the higher end i5 12600 and above SKUs. The budget will get the crippled chip. I suspect it is not just the E-cores that got chopped, but also things like cache size and likely graphic solution as well. Typical Intel strategy where they will always try and create some differences to milk their customers. Anyway from a gaming perspective, I think the efficient cores get disabled anyway, so no big deal losing them. Only problem is how much cache is left, that may have some impact to gaming performance.
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