2021 is turning out to be a big year for Intel.
It began with the launch of the Tiger Lake-H series at CES, a new version of its 11th-gen laptop chips designed for gaming. Tiger Lake includes no desktop chips, however, so we had to wait until March for the 11th-gen Rocket Lake CPUs to arrive.
12th-gen Alder Lake chips will therefore technically be a successor to both, given they're expected to include desktop and laptop CPUs. Confused yet? You might be now.
The focus of this article will be the 13th-gen 'Raptor Lake' processors, although it's not yet clear if they will include laptops chips as well as the already-rumoured desktop CPUs. Either way, here's everything you need to know at this early stage.
Intel Raptor Lake release date
Component manufacturers are typically pretty open when it comes to their long-term plans, although the existence of Raptor Lake appears to have come courtesy of a leak. Prolific component leaker @momomo_us is among those to have found official material on Intel's next-gen chip family:
While this doesn't confirm anything specific, it would be highly unlikely for Intel to have this sort of documentation ready unless it was planning on launching soon. Given Intel's busy 2021, it's unlikely to arrive this year, but 2022 is looking likely.
Intel Raptor Lake pricing
We have no idea how much Raptor Lake might cost at this stage, although the current-gen Rocket Lake pricing gives us an idea how much we'll have to pay for desktop chips:
- Core i9-11900K - $513-$539
- Core i7-11700K - $374-$399
- Core i5-11600K - $237-$262
- Core i5-11400K - $157-$182
These are the prices suggested by Intel, with manufacturers ultimately deciding how much you'll pay - that explains the range that's offered.
Should Intel also release Raptor Lake chips for laptops, they'll be designed for integration into the devices and not available to buy as standalone components. In that situation, the price you'll pay is also dependent on the manufacturer, but the design and other specs too. It's impossible to predict how much they'll cost, but the widespread rollout of Tiger Lake chips suggests they'll be plenty of choice.
Intel Raptor Lake spec rumours
With so long until a potential release, concrete Raptor Lake rumours are relatively thin on the ground. It may turn out to be a relatively low-profile launch, with 2021's Alder Lake bringing about significant design changes before a potential move to 7nm with Meteor Lake in 2023.
Wholesale changes to Intel silicon are relatively rare, so we'd be surprised to see too many big upgrades with Raptor Lake. Alder Lake is already moving to a new design, with a mixture of performance and power efficiency cores meaning existing existing motherboards are no longer compatible, making it unlikely for Intel to switch things up again after just one generation. We're also expecting Intel to finally move to 10nm in 2021, but Raptor Lake will likely come too early for 7nm.
Aside from speculation based on where it fits into Intel's lineup, the main rumour so far comes courtesy of VideoCardz. It has published what looks to be an official roadmap for the company's upcoming launches, alongside some key features:
Following its introduction in 2021, it suggests that there will be some subtle changes to the new hybrid core system in order to improve performance. It's not clear what these will involve - Intel perhaps doesn't know itself yet. Raptor Lake will also supposedly be when the company switches to LPDDR5X - the next-gen RAM solution that launched in late 2020. Finally, introducing a new DLVR Power Delivery System should allow Raptor Lake to better optimise its power output according to the situation - this would lead to better efficiency, and in turn battery life.
Alongside the same hybrid CPU changes, the laptop-focused version of Raptor Lake will also apparently bring an improved cache for gaming and a new feature set for Intel vPro. The latter is a company platform that offers a range of features tailored for business users, including top-drawer performance, remote manageability and high-end security.
While this sounds convincing and fairly realistic, it's worth noting that the diagram still shows Rocket Lake as being from 2020, despite it arriving in March 2021. That suggests this roadmap is at least a few months out of date, and the situation may have changed significantly since then.
The full Raptor Lake CPU lineup has now leaked, courtesy of YouTube channel Adored TV. It's been accompanied by the following diagram, showing low-power, mainstrain and enthusiast chips:
Key takeaways here include a maximum of 24 cores and 32 threads on high-end Core i9 CPUs, while the budget-focused Pentium chips will be limited to 4 cores and 4 threads.
The 35W, 65W and 125W power requirements have already been reported from sites such as Igor's Lab in Germany - they're similar to Alder Lake. In reporting the news, Wccftech suggests that the existing LGA 1700 socket will still be supported by Raptor Lake.
We'll update this article as soon as we know more about Raptor Lake. In the meantime, read more about Intel's upcoming 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs.