Intel is holding an Intel Innovation 2022 event where they will announce the Intel 13th Generation Core “Raptor Lake” desktop CPU family on September 27-28, 2022. Igor’s Lab has leaked the entire press-deck (which looks genuine to me), so we don’t have to wait to see it. This post will have some of my thoughts about this leaked Intel Raptor Lake information.
Leaked Intel Raptor Lake Information
I am just going cover the more interesting slides from the leaked deck. Current rumors indicate that Raptor Lake will be available for sale in October 2022.
New and Featured Technologies
Raptor Lake is the socket compatible follow-up to the existing 12th Generation Alder Lake processor family. You will be able to use Raptor Lake processors in existing Intel 600 series motherboards, such as the Z690 or B660. You’ll need a BIOS update to do this, which is normal. You will need a new 700 series motherboard to fully leverage all of the Raptor Lake improvements though. For example, you will get more total PCIe 4.0 lanes and more high-speed USB ports with a Z790 motherboard.
Raptor Lake processors will max out at 8 P-cores (Performance) and 16 E-cores (Efficient). The max E-core count is doubled compared to Alder Lake. The P-cores have hyperthreading, while the E-cores don’t. This means that the top SKU will have 24 total physical cores, but only 32 threads.
Higher end Intel Raptor Lake processors (above Core i5K) will also have larger L3 and L2 caches. The lower end Raptor Lake SKUs are actually going to be rebadged Alder Lake cores (which is slightly bad news).
12th Generation vs. 13th Generation Processors
The actual Raptor Lake SKUs will also have higher official DDR5 speed support, (DDR5-5600 vs. DDR5-4800). Particular Intel 700 series motherboards can still support DDR4 RAM (but it can only be DDR4 or DDR5, not both). If you already have some decent DDR4 RAM, you can use that with DDR4 600 series or 700 series motherboards.
Intel Chipset Comparison
The only differences called out here between a Z690 and the upcoming Z790 are that the Z790 will have up to 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes (and only 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes), along with up to five 20 Gbps USB-C ports.
If you already have a good Z690 motherboard, you probably don’t need to upgrade to a new Z790 motherboard.
Raptor Lake SKU Chart
This is one of the most interesting slides, with the SKUs and specifications for the higher-end Raptor Lake SKUs (Core i5K and above). At least for launch, the Intel Core i9-13900K will be at the top of the stack. The eight P-cores will have a base clock of 3.0 GHz, with a max single core boost of up to 5.8 GHz, with TVB.
Each K-SKU will have a corresponding KF-SKU that does NOT have integrated graphics. Typically, KF-SKUs are only about $20 less than the same level K-SKU so you are not saving much money. Having integrated graphics (in addition to a discrete GPU) is actually very handy. It can be useful for troubleshooting and the iGPU will also be used in some applications (such as Adobe apps) to speed up encoding. There are also use cases where you would deliberately choose to just use the iGPU and eliminate the cost and power usage of a discrete GPU.
My guess is that the Core i7-13700K will be a very popular SKU. It should give close to Core i9-13900K performance in many cases for roughly half the cost.
Intel Thread Director
Intel Thread Director was first used with the existing Intel Alder Lake processors. It helps supported operating systems do a much better job of sending tasks to either P-cores or E-cores to maximize performance and efficiency. So far, the only supported operating system for Thread Director is Windows 11.
If you prefer good old Windows 10, you won’t get Thread Director support (at least so far). You can still use Windows 10 with Raptor Lake, but you will get less consistency with your performance. This is particularly noticeable with SQL Server. If you do presentations and demonstrations using SQL Server running locally, your query performance will jump around quite a bit.
You can choose to disable your E-cores in the BIOS of most systems but doing this will give you less overall multi-threaded CPU performance.
Hybrid processors (like Alder Lake and Raptor Lake) make more sense for laptops, where battery life is a big concern. They make less sense on desktop machines, where I would rather have more P-cores for consistent performance.
Intel Z790 Block Diagram
This is the final leaked slide that I will discuss. A key advantage of Intel Z690 and Z790 chipsets is that x8 DMI 4.0 link between the CPU and the chipset. This lets you have up to two PCIe 4.0 x4 connected to M.2 NVMe SSDs connected to the chipset running full bandwidth simultaneously. This is a big deal for some use cases.
Some Intel Z690 and Z790 chipset motherboards have more than two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots connected to the chipset (rather than the CPU). You can populate and use these simultaneously, but your overall bandwidth between the CPU and the chipset will be limited to PCIe 4.0 x8.
You will see this come into play with SQL Server in some situations. For example, if you have multiple data files that you carefully distribute across multiple M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 drives (to maximize your read/write performance), that DMI bandwidth limit will hit you.
You can easily confirm this by simply running CrystalDiskMark on all of your drives at the same time (using one instance of CrystalDiskMark for each drive).
To be fair, this is somewhat of an edge case, since most people will not be slamming SQL Server on a desktop machine. But it can affect you as a database developer or presenter.
Should You Upgrade to Raptor Lake?
If you already have a higher end Alder Lake CPU and a good Z690 chipset motherboard, probably not. Perhaps if you have a lower end Alder Lake SKU, such as a Core i5-12400, then upgrading to a higher-end Raptor Lake SKU with your existing motherboard might make sense.
If you really prefer Intel over AMD and you have an older Intel system that you want to replace, a Raptor Lake upgrade will be a big improvement.
If you detest Windows 11, you also might want to avoid Raptor Lake. It is also likely that the next generation Intel Meteor Lake CPUs will require new, non-compatible motherboards. This makes Raptor Lake more of a dead end for future upgrades.
Overall, I think the upcoming (on September 27th) AMD Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 processors and X670E/X670 platform is going to be a more compelling long-term upgrade. AMD plans to support the new AM5 socket for several years, which gives you more platform stability.
Despite the daily benchmark leaks from AMD Ryzen 7000 and Intel Raptor Lake processors, we won’t know the true relative performance until we see 3rd party benchmarks for both CPU families.
Personally, I am going to be building a new AMD Ryzen 9 7950X and X670E system as soon as I can. You can rest assured that I will talk about it! If you are thinking about building a new system, my recent post might be helpful.
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!