Intel Architecture Day 2021: update on Alder Lake and its Big little architecture

intel big little

Intel logically raved about his 12 th generation of processors , the already famous Alder Lake.

Covid-19 pandemic requires, Intel kept the distanced format for its annual event, Intel Architecture Day , as it had done last year. For this edition, it was of course a question of two major trends: let’s start with Intel’s core business, processors.

Core performance and efficient core

Logically, there was a lot of talk about Alder Lake during the conference. Intel has thus detailed the bigLITTLE architecture that it is implementing and reassured about the expected performance. Indeed, of the 16 cores planned for the high-end Alder Lake, it will only be a question of 8 “ full power ” cores , making some people fear the worst.

Cores that Intel now calls the Performance cores and that we know under the code name Golden Cove. Intel confirms the rise compared to Cypress Cove of Rocket Lake processors with 19% more instructions per cycle at equal frequency. To achieve this level of performance, Intel has three words ” wider, deeper, smarter “.

The smarter involves the overhaul of the branch prediction system which is obviously more precise. The wider is linked to the evolution of the decoding unit, which goes to 6 decoders (against 4) with a doubling of the length of the slices. Finally, the deeper is linked to the doubling of the instruction-TLB to 256 inputs on the 4K and 32 inputs on the 2M / 4M.

To support its Performance cores , Intel is integrating 8 Gracemont cores, the Efficient Cores , in Alder Lake. Intel insisted on the optimizations carried out for more efficient cores compared to Skylake: we are talking about performance up 40% for identical consumption on a single core and up to + 80% in the case of use in cluster.

Three orientations, three die formats

This so-called heterogeneous architecture – or bigLITTLE therefore – seems more and more fashionable and Intel is clearly not the first to use it. It should offer him more flexibility and the American wanted to prove it by detailing several forms of die planned for the release of Alder Lake, three to be more exact.

We have already spoken at length, the processors for desktop computers – the desktop segment – will be the occasion to introduce a new socket, the LGA1700. With dimensions up to 37.5 x 45mm, they will be made up of a maximum of 8 Golden Cove cores / 8 Gracemont cores and 24 threads . Intel also mentions a maximum of 32 UEs for the integrated graphics solution.

Processors for mobile machines will be delivered in a BGA format of 50 x 25 x 1.3 mm. They will of course be distinguished by a significantly lower TDP (28 to 45 W) and fewer cores: up to 6 Golden Cove alongside the 8 Gracemont, for a maximum of 20 threads . On the other hand, the integrated graphics solution will be much more muscular with a maximum of 96 UE.

Finally, Intel brings up the rear with its ultra-portable processors. There, the TDP is further reduced to reach, depending on the configuration, 7 to 28 W. There is still talk of a BGA format, but in 28.5 x 19 x 1.1 mm and the number of Golden Cove cores is 2, supported by 8 Gracemonts, for a total of 12 threads . We benefit here from the same number of execution units for the integrated graphics solution, 96.

While the release of the first Alder Lake processors still seems to be scheduled for the end of the year, Intel concluded its conference by giving us an appointment at the end of October for further information.


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