Intel Raptor Lake CPUs: Everything we know about the 13th-gen processors

Raptor Lake will be Intel’s 13th-gen processor, following up on the momentum that the company is building with its upcoming Alder Lake release later this year. While Alder Lake still isn’t quite fully baked yet — it’s scheduled to be released later this year — the company is already hard at work with the 12th-gen processor’s successor.

And even though Raptor Lake may be more of an incremental update for those looking to adopt the 12th-gen Alder Lake platform, the new 13th-gen chipset is expected to bring even stronger performance with an enhanced 10nm design.

A leaked roadmap suggests that Intel may be tuning Raptor Lake with technologies that can benefit gamers, but aside from teasers, there is little official information about Raptor Lake. Here’s everything we know so far, including when it’s expected to launch.

Pricing and availability

With 12th-gen Alder Lake scheduled to launch later this year, Raptor Lake won’t be expected until 2022 at the earliest. If Intel follows its traditional release schedule, we can expect to see Raptor Lake debut sometime in the fall.

The timing would match what is currently being rumored for Alder Lake. The mobile 12th-gen processors will likely arrive in October and are even rumored to usher in Microsoft’s new Windows 11 operating system, while desktop Alder Lake could arrive in November. Given the ongoing global semiconductor shortage that’s been plaguing CPUs and GPUs, it’s unclear if Intel could stick to a similar launch schedule for Raptor Lake or how much inventory the company will have for its processors at launch.

Pricing information is not yet known for Raptor Lake, but given that Intel’s Core i5-10500 processors retail for $285, we expect a midrange 13th-gen to have similar pricing. Similarly, AMD’s high-end Ryzen 9 3950X desktop processor with 16 cores and 32 threads comes in at $738, and we anticipate Raptor Lake to have similar price.

Architecture design

Source: Videocardz

As a refresh of Alder Lake, Raptor Lake is expected to be more of a minor processor upgrade in Intel’s CPU release cadence. Like its predecessor, Raptor Lake is expected to be based on an enhanced 10nm processor design, which the company refers to as 10nm Enhanced SuperFin, along with the heterogenous core architecture that mimics Arm’s big.LITTLE processor design.

In fact, it’s been speculated that Intel could even utilize the same cores from its 12th-gen lineup in Raptor Lake, so we should see a return of the Golden Cove high-performance cores as well as the Gracemont high-efficiency cores. There has been conflicting information about the return of Golden Cove, however, with some speculating that Intel could introduce new performance cores with Raptor Lake. The hybrid architecture design allows Intel to home in on performance while keeping power consumption low.

With Raptor Lake, Intel is said to be improving the performance of these cores, and the leaked road map published by Videocardz suggests that we should see “new hybrid CPU core changes for improved performance” as well as “improved CPU cache for gaming” improvements for desktop Raptor Lake. It’s unclear what these changes will be at this time, however.

In another strategy that mimics Intel’s release of 12th-gen Alder Lake, the new Raptor Lake’s core architecture will be used on both desktops and mobiles. On laptops, Intel is introducing LPDDR5X memory support, which should be an improvement over the LPDDR5 memory supported on Alder Lake. Also new to mobile Raptor Lake is support for new DLVR power delivery. The company has not announced what DLVR power delivery is for its platform, but it could be similar to rival AMD’s implementation.

DLVR power delivery could allow the processors to operate at very low frequencies when high clock speeds aren’t needed, and the end result could be significantly improved battery performance when combined with the hybrid core architecture design.

If accurate, this could bring much-needed stamina to Raptor Lake-powered laptops, and Intel notebooks will be able to more effectively — and efficiently — compete against Arm-based processors, like the M series CPUs that Apple has been using on its new Macs. The battery life boost on mobile will also align with Intel’s Evo standards that debuted with the company’s 11th-gen mobile CPUs. Intel Evo was previously known as Project Athena.

Credit: Videocardz

We still don’t have many details about Raptor Lake’s processor configurations, but a recent rumor published by YouTube channel Moore’s Law is Dead suggests that Raptor Lake could come with a total of 24 cores. While the 24-core count won’t be a direct comparison to rival AMD’s Threadripper Ryzen processors — Intel is using a hybrid architecture, after all — it should help Intel improve multithreaded operations.

Moore’s Law is Dead suggests that Intel will arrive at the 24-core count on its flagship processor by combining eight high-performance cores with 16 high-efficiency cores. The channel suggests that Intel may use new Raptor Lake high performance cores, rather than the Sunny Cove architecture employed by Alder Lake, and the same high-efficiency Gracemont cores in the 13th Gen design. The change in high-performance core architecture could deliver serious gaming improvements.

Regardless of the design, Raptor Lake will have more high-efficiency cores than the prior generation Alder Lake, if the architecture rumors are accurate. It’s still unclear how many threads will be supported on Intel’s premium 13th-gen processor, however. We also don’t know what configurations of high-performance and high-efficiency cores Intel will use across its desktop and mobile line at this time.

Because of the shift to the hybrid architecture design, Intel is said to be working closely with Microsoft to allow Windows to take advantage of the new processor performance. The companies were said to be working very closely to debut Windows 11 on Alder Lake, and the situation could be similar with Raptor Lake. However, Intel may not be the only x86 processor in town that is looking at a hybrid processor design. Rival AMD recently filed a patent for hybrid cores for its Ryzen processors, according to Tom’s Hardware, suggesting that Intel will get some competition in this space in the future.

Performance

Intel Tigerlake H45
Intel

Other than Intel’s claims that we should see improved gaming performance from its leaked road map, we still don’t know a lot of information about how Raptor Lake will perform. Given that Raptor Lake is expected to improve upon 12th-gen Alder Lake, we can expect to see big performance uplift, especially when compared to Intel processors that don’t use the hybrid core design.

With Alder Lake, Intel claimed that its 12th-gen processor delivered a 20% instructions-per-cycle (IPC) uplift from prior generations, and a leaked gaming benchmark of Dota 2 using an early engineering Intel sample with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 discrete graphics resulted in a peak performance of 549 frames per second. We expect even better results with Raptor Lake, given Intel’s gaming focus and improved high-performance core design with this generation. However, we won’t fully know what to expect until leaked benchmarks start to come in.

And with more Gracemont high-efficiency cores, we should also see a big performance improvement with multithreaded workloads, making it a strong CPU option for creative workflows. A leaked Intel slide for Alder Lake revealed that the Gracemont already delivers 2x the performance gain in multithreaded workloads.

For reference, leaked samples of Intel’s Alder Lake processors suggest that clock speeds range between 2.7 to 3.4GHz. We still don’t know how Intel will clock Raptor Lake.

Intel will likely continue its push of the ATX12VO standard from Alder Lake with Raptor Lake, which requires a new 10-pin power connector. The standard is said to reduce power consumption on desktops by as much as 50% when the systems are running near or at idle, which would help Intel better compete against AMD in the performance-per-watt metric. It was speculated that high-end gaming desktops may not use the new ATX12VO connectors, however, with Intel pushing this standard toward entry-level motherboards and prebuilt systems.

Raptor Lake is also expected to support the PCIe Gen 5 standard.

The last stop before 7nm

Like Alder Lake, Raptor Lake will also use Intel’s 10nm node. However, Raptor Lake could be the last CPU to utilize the 10nm node before Intel transitions to a new 7nm node. For reference, rival AMD migrated to its 7nm Zen 2 architecture in 2019, which means that Intel is a few years behind of its competitor in moving to a smaller node. Both companies are committed to getting to 5nm and beyond in the future.

Following Raptor Lake, Intel confirmed that its next-gen Meteor Lake — likely the company’s 14th-gen processor — will move to a 7nm EUV manufacturing process. After Meteor Lake, Intel’s 15th-gen processor will be called Lunar Lake, according to Videocardz.

Socket compatibility

Gamers looking to move to 12th-gen Alder Lake this year will get some good news if they’re eyeing a Raptor Lake upgrade next year. It’s believed that Intel will reuse the same rectangular-shaped LGA 1700 socket for Raptor Lake, so you can just upgrade the processor without having to buy a new board if you’re coming from a 12th-gen CPU.

With Alder Lake, there were rumors that Intel could be adopting a similar socket strategy to rival AMD by making its design more platform agnostic. If accurate, this means that the same LGA 1700 socket could also be used by multiple successive generations of processors, which would make upgrades easier, less costly, and better for the environment. It’s unclear if Intel will go ahead with this strategy or if future CPUs will once again use a new socket design.

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