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Intel confirms Alder Lake specs, hybrid core design, and Thread Director

Performance should be interesting.

Intel’s Architecture Day 2021 event was filled with major PC hardware news including details on ARC graphics and XeSS AI upscaling, but we also finally got some specs and info about the highly-anticipated Alder Lake CPUs. The hybrid design for this new architecture isn’t an entirely new concept though, as many compare it to ARM’s big.LITTLE as a means of inspiration. While Intel is designing these chips with efficiency in mind, Alder Lake will still offer the highest performing cores ever produced by the company. It will also be the first to use the Intel 7 (previously named 10nm) process.

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Alder Lake’s hyper-threaded Performance (P) cores are based on the Golden Cove microarchitecture and come with a 19% increase in IPC over Rocket Lake. On the other hand, Intel’s new Efficiency (E) cores will be single-threaded and based on the Gracemont architecture.


It seems these new cores are showing some promising results in comparison to older versions. According to Intel, a single E core delivers 40% more performance than a Skylake core in single-threaded use cases. Additionally, four E cores offer 80% more performance and use up 80% less power than a dual-core Skylake configuration when multi-threading.

The Alder Lake chips will offer up to 16 cores with the highest-end model, divided equally between performance and efficiency cores. Since efficiency cores only come with a single thread each,  the flagship chip will reach 24 threads along with 30MB of L3 cache.

Alder Lake is also all about speed, with support for DDR5 and x16 PCIe Gen 5 for double the bandwidth. Finally, the desktop PC chip will be compatible with newer motherboards featuring the new LGA 1700 CPU socket.

Intel Alder Lake specs release hybrid performance gaming

Alder Lake is getting an all-new scheduler

Intel also showed off its new technology called Intel Thread Director which aims to optimize how tasks are delegated to the performance or efficiency cores. High-priority tasks will normally be assigned to the performance cores, whereas background processes will be handle by the efficiency cores. This should result in a massive multi-threaded performance boost for Intel CPUs, allowing for more multi-tasking than ever before.

For example, the powerful P cores will be utilized when gaming for maximum performance or when demanding software is running. The E cores will handle minimal tasks such as browsing the web, streaming, and capturing gameplay footage. Intel also stated that it is working closely with Microsoft in order to optimize the Thread Director for Windows 11.

During the event, Intel also seemingly confirmed previous rumors that suggested the higher-end Alder Lake-S lineup would have a fall 2021 release date. With chip shortages still an issue, it will be interesting to see if the company is able to secure enough stock. Based on what we’ve learned about the specs for Alder Lake, it could prove very popular for Intel, and the launch is only a few months away at this point.

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Michael Feghali
Michael is a lifelong gamer who plays just about anything from RPGs to sports games. When he's not writing about games and tech, you can find him struggling to rank up in Rocket League or messing around in Destiny raids.