Intel 11th Gen Core Desktop Processor Rocket Lake-S

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It doesn’t seem that long ago that Intel launched its 10th Generation Core Desktop Processor Comet Lake-S.  Indeed, it has been less than a year since the launch of Comet Lake-S at the end of May in 2020.  You can check out our reviews of the Intel Core i5-10600K and Intel Core i9-10900K CPUs as a refresher.  With that launch, Intel also released the Z490 chipset.

Here toward the end of March in 2021 Intel is releasing a new generation of CPUs and chipsets.  Today’s article is simply an overview of what to expect, this is not a hardware review today, that is to come later.  Intel will be launching its 11th Generation Core Desktop Processors known as Rocket Lake-S.  In addition, there will be a new 500 series of Chipsets, most notably the Z590.  In this article today we will share the entire press deck with you, and information we have learned, and give our opinions.  A full review is expected upon launch.

Rocket Lake-S

Rocket Lake-S is Intel’s 11th Gen Intel Core Desktop Processors on 14nm.  However, this is a new core architecture and a whole new processor core codenamed Cypress Cove.  This is very different from the previous generation Comet Lake-S. 

For 11th Gen Rocket Lake-S Intel has taken the 10nm Sunny Cove core IP from Ice Lake notebook CPUs and re-engineered it backwards to 14nm.  Why 14nm? With the mature process, Intel can target very high frequencies that are needed for desktop users.  Due to the integration of new integrated graphics, and other goodies, Intel named these “new” cores Cypress Cove in Rocket Lake-S. 

Intel states that it wanted to target the IPC (Instructions Per Clock) increase, and also maintain a high frequency, and sticking with the mature 14nm process allowed this to happen.  Therefore, Intel took the improved IPC of the 10nm Sunny Cove IP and put it on a process where they could get higher frequencies that are needed for desktop users.  Therefore, the new Rocket Lake-S CPUs have a 19% IPC improvement over 10th Gen CPUs.  That’s a gen-to-gen IPC improvement comparison by Intel. 

The integrated Intel UDH graphics now features the new Intel Xe graphics architecture from Tiger Lake which brings a 50% improvement to better graphics performance.  Intel has also integrated new Intel Deep Learning Boost AI into the CPU.  The architecture now supports DDR4-3200 as the standard RAM speed.  In fact, Rocket Lake-S is using a new integrated memory controller. 

Due to the improved Intel Xe graphics, it can now support 10bit AVI, 12bit HEVC decompression and E2E compression.  The architecture supports up to 20 CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes now, and HDMI 2.0 and HBR3.  There are also new overclocking features, and Resizable BAR is also supported across the board.

What about the Cores?

The downside for Rocket Lake S Processors is that there will be no 10 core CPU this generation like the i9-10900k.  Instead, the highest core/thread count will be the i9-11900K with 8 cores/16 threads.  The reason for the reduction is because of the ported 10nm IP over to a 14nm process, which is bigger.  Because the IP is larger on 14nm it would mean higher power requirements, more die area, and cost, and overall lower frequencies across the board to increase core count.  Intel wanted to maintain the improved Intel Xe integrated graphics component from Tiger Lake for its corporate users, so that was another component that had to be integrated.    

The 14nm process offers them the frequencies they need for desktop CPUs, but to fit in the budget that Intel wanted the process just doesn’t allow for more scale-up in core count.  Instead, Intel wanted to shoot for those high frequencies and potential single-core IPC performance.  Therefore, it’s a mix of a 10nm IP ported over to 14nm for higher frequencies.  The loss though, as we can see, is that it tops out at 8 cores and 16 threads. 

The SKUs

Similar to what we’ve seen in the past, there will be i9, i7, and i5 SKUs.  All of the i9 SKUs and i7 SKUs will have 8 cores and 16 threads.  The i5 SKUs will have 6 cores and 12 threads.  There will be K SKUs that are unlocked, as well as KF and T SKUs. 

At the top-end is the i9-11900K which will have an Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 clock speed frequency of Up to 5.1GHz and a Turbo Boost Max 3.0 frequency of Up to 5.2GHz and an Intel Thermal Velocity Boost Single-Core Frequency of 5.3GHz or an all-core Turbo Frequency of 4.8GHz.  Yes, the frequency business here gets very confusing, and we won’t list everyone, but you can see in the chart how they are configured.  The TDP on the top-end i9 and i7 CPUs is 125W.  The i9’s and i7’s have up to 44 PCIe lanes and DDR4-3200 and 16MB of Intel Smart Cache.  There is 2MB of cache per core. 

The top-end i5 SKU will be the i5-11600K.  It has an Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 frequency up to 4.9GHz and an Intel all-core Turbo Frequency of up to 4.6GHz.  The i5’s do not support Intel Turbo Boost Max or Intel Thermal Velocity.  It will have 12M of Smart Cache and a TDP of 125W.  All the i5 CPUs have up to 44 PCIe lanes and run at DDR4-3200.

Below that, the i3 SKUs are simply going to be refreshed 10th Gen Intel Core Desktop Processors Comet Lake-S.  Therefore, to get on the new Rocket Lake gravy train, you will need to get 11th Gen i5, i7, or i9.

Brent Justice
Former managing editor of GPUs at HardOCP for 18 years, Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components since the late 90s, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review, he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented and hardware enthusiast perspective. You can follow him on Twitter - @Brent_Justice You can sub to his YouTube channel - Justice Gaming You can check out his computer builds on KIT - @BrentJustice

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