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Intel's Alder Lake CPUs Revolutionize x86 CPUs


Published: 11-2-2021



For the last few years, Intel has been facing some stiff competition on multiple fronts. AMDís Ryzen series of processors eroded virtually all of Intelís advantages, offering more cores and faster IPS (instructions per clock) at lower prices. The only real advantage left to a technologically struggling Intel was its manufacturing capacity. AMD also has the video game console sewn up, because Intel canít offer a good enough GPU in its SoCs (System on a Chip) to make an Intel-based Xbox or PlayStation feasible.

On top of this, Apple completely ditched Intel in their computers, switching over to their own ARM-based CPU designs. So far, this has been a major success for Apple, with their own processors soundly outperforming previous Intel Macs while offering silly amounts of battery life without compromises.

Intel hasnít taken this lying down! For one thing, we are about to see the fruits of their GPU development labors, with the imminent release of Intelís Arc Alchemist. A GPU thatís promised to compete with the RTX 3070, and will include dedicated hardware ray tracing and machine learning hardware. Then we have the latest Alder Lake CPUs, a return to form for Intel, and also a real revolution in the x86 CPU world.

The Hybrid Theory of Alder Lake

Alder Lake is the first mainstream x86 desktop CPU product line to use a hybrid architecture. This means that there isnít just one type of CPU core within the CPU package. Instead, you have P-cores for high performance and E-cores for power efficiency. If youíve been following the development of mobile processor technology, you may find this approach familiar.

Both smartphones and tablets have been using a ďBIG.littleĒ architecture for some time. Background processes and simple apps only run on energy-efficient cores that are fast enough for the basics. If you fire up a video game or another intense type of app, the high-performance cores kick in. This allocation can be dynamic as well. For example, the high-performance cores can switch on to do one particular intensive task for an app and then switch off again when done. This design means you can access the performance you need when you need it, but also maximize battery life.

Appleís M1-derived CPUs in their laptop and desktop computers use this design to great effect and thereís no question that Intel needed something to compete.


The Alder Lake CPU Family

At the time of writing, there are six Alder Lake desktop CPUs:

  • i9 12900K with 8P and 8E cores.

  • i9 12900KF with 8P and 8E cores and no GPU.

  • i7 12700K With 8P and 4E cores.

  • i7 12700KF With 8P and 4E cores and no GPU.

  • i5 12600K with 6P and 4E cores.

  • i5 12600KF with 6P and 4E cores and no GPU.


Itís worth noting that the P-cores are hyperthreaded, while the E-cores are not.

Why is This Hybrid Approach Good?


Why have these lower-performing cores in a desktop CPU at all? Sure, it makes sense to have them in a battery-powered device like a laptop, but who cares if the CPU draws a few extra watts at the wall?

While having a desktop computer that uses less power when not running heavy loads is a good thing, the advantages of a hybrid design on a desktop system go far beyond that.

Letís say you have eight P-cores and four E-cores. Those E-cores can handle all of the system overhead. The background processes donít take much power to run but need to run for the computer to work. If all you have are full performance cores, then inevitably some of them are going to process these low-impact threads, wasting the majority of their performance. Even with hyperthreading, there may still not be enough to do to saturate the CPU. If youíre also running a high-performance application such as a video game, video editor, or CPU renderer, you are briefly giving up performance. It all adds up!

E-cores also reduce the cost of adding additional computing power to a CPU. You can first multiple e-cores into the room a P-core takes up and since they are simpler they cost less to make, with (presumably) better yields. Not to mention, they make it easier for a system to remain quiet when youíre just browsing the web or watching a movie.

We also canít forget the large user base who run high-impact applications and have applications such as screen recorders and streaming software in the background. Hybrid CPUs are an excellent way to efficiently manage these loads.




LIST OF COMPATIBLE WORKSTATIONS





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Titan C261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Mobile Mini ITX Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan C261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Mobile Mini ITX Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

A Mini ITX workstation might be small and portable, but that doesnít mean you have to compromise where it really matters. The Titan C261 is equipped with the latest Intel Alder Lake CPUs and full-sized GPU options, which means you can smash professional computing workloads wherever you set up shop.




Starting Price: $1,985.00
Titan S261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors 4U Rackmount Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan S261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors 4U Rackmount Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

Designing a server for CAD/CAM users is always a challenge. These workloads benefit from fast single-core performance, but having many cores speeds up CPU-based final rendering. Use a CPU with too many cores, and the minute-to-minute design experience can suffer thanks to low single-core performance. Intelís 12th and 13th generation hybrid desktop CPUs offer the perfect solution, with fast performance cores for the design phase and numerous efficiency cores to tear through CPU rendering when youíre done.




Starting Price: $2,120.00
Titan S361 - 14th Gen Intel Core Series Processors 4U Rackmount Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan S361 - 14th Gen Intel Core Series Processors 4U Rackmount Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

Meet the Titan S361, a 4U Rackmount Workstation PC designed for the most demanding CAD/CAM applications, when you want to work from anywhere and still get things done.




Starting Price: $2,120.00
Titan W361 - 14th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan W361 - 14th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

Embark on a journey of unrivaled performance with the Titan W361, a workstation that epitomizes power and precision. At its core lies the 14th Generation Raptor Lake processors, offering up to 24 cores to breeze through complex computations and multi-threaded applications. Choose between Intel Core i5, i7, or i9 to match your need for speed and efficiency.




Starting Price: $2,245.00
Titan W261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan W261 - 13th Gen Intel Core Series Processors Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

Dynamite may come in small packages, but the Titan W261 is more like a brick of C4 ready to blow a hole through your workload. With the latest Alder Lake 13th-generation Intel CPU technology, you can crunch the big numbers in the background while getting on with writing those reports (or watching YouTube) in the foreground.




Starting Price: $2,550.00
Titan Vulcan 24 - Ai Overclocked 13th Gen Intel Core Processors Mini ITX Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores Titan Vulcan 24 - Ai Overclocked 13th Gen Intel Core Processors Mini ITX Workstation PC for CAD/CAM up to 24 CPU Cores

Introducing the extraordinary Titan Vulcan 24, an AI-Overclocked 13th Gen Intel Core Processors Mini ITX Workstation PC, crafted for CAD/CAM enthusiasts who demand peak performance without compromise.





Starting Price: $4,395.00
   
 
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