Rocket Lake-S deep dive: Intel on broken embargoes, benchmark scores, walled gardens and power of PC

by Jeremy
Rocket Lake represents Intel’s first “new desktop architecture” in about 5 years.

Intel is officially launching its 11th Gen Intel Core S-series desktop processors (codenamed “Rocket Lake-S”) worldwide today. But unless you’ve been living under a rock or something, you will most probably know some units of these processors have already been sold at retail, purchased, and reviewed “extensively” before the sales date. Do I think that all these reviews are putting Rocket Lake in the best light? Well, no,” Intel’s Marcus Kennedy tells Financial Express Online.

Rocket Lake-S, Intel

Anything that you have read prior to this article coming out on March 16, isn’t going to be showcasing the best of Rocket Lake. Because, as Kennedy puts it, “it’s not standardized configuration and not really how people are going to be using it. When the product actually comes out, and people play with the enhanced BIOS and all the updates, the right chipsets, and the right motherboards, the truth of the product will come out and we think that this is a really exciting product.”

Rocket Lake represents Intel’s first “new desktop architecture” in about 5 years. The codename of this core architecture is Cypress Cove. By re-building two different backported technologies, the Sunny Cove core from (10nm) Ice Lake and Xe graphics from (10nm) Tiger Lake on 14nm, Kennedy says Intel has hit the “sweet spot” bringing up to 19 percent gen-over-gen instructions per cycle (IPC) improvement for the highest frequency cores and up to 50 percent better integrated graphics performance. The flagship processor in the lineup, the Intel Core i9-11900K (8 core, 16-thread), can reach speeds of up to 5.3GHz with Intel Thermal Velocity Boost.

Excerpts.

FE: Why did it take five years between architectures?

Marcus Kennedy: With the previous architecture and with our world class engineers, we were able to really stay ahead of the pack and continue to bring generation over generation enhancements that really led the industry. The reason it took five years was because we didn’t need to change our architecture in order to continue to deliver the improvements (with our tick-tock) that gamers really wanted in this space. Now that we have a new architecture that actually gives that step function performance in addition to the Xe integrated graphics (which was just released earlier this year), we felt that now was the time to make that next leap, to continue onto the next performance step function.

 FE: What’s your take on competition, AMD in particular—has it pushed you into switching gears?

Marcus Kennedy: Competition is always good. It is good for the market, but more than anything, it is good for us. We as a company just do better when we have better competition. Better competition makes us more focused. We are a competitive company so it absolutely does play a part. That said, our main focus always comes back to our customers. No matter who is playing in what market, no matter what competitors decide to do, we stay focused on delivering for the gamers and creators and the rest of our community what we know they want. And what they want is performance. They want world class performance all the time, they want great price-perf ratio, they want the ability to overclock, they want the ability to squeeze out as much performance as they possibly can.

FE: Could you take us through the new architecture and some of its major advantages?

 Marcus Kennedy: It lets us take advantage of the great new IP performance while maintaining the same kind of manufacturing efficiency that we have been able to gain since we have been on 14 nanometers for a while. It’s a nice sweet spot of new core and graphics IP plus taking advantage of all of the high frequencies we have been able to tune in on the 14-nanometer process. So, what you end up with is a part that is able to hit frequencies up to 5.3GHz with new integrated graphics and we are also able to bring in advanced AI features. Beyond the IPC and integrated graphics improvements, this actually brings PCIe Gen 4.0 to the market on desktop (it’s up to 20 CPU PCIe Gen 4 Lanes). It has up to DDR4-3200 support. There is new enhanced media 10-bit AV1, 12-bit HEVC and enhanced display with integrated HDMI 2.0 and HBR3. Then of course there are all the upgraded connectivity options like Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt 4.

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