Intel’s Alder Lake processors will need new cooling systems and motherboards

Most recently, our blog featured an article on Intel’s new Alder Lake hybrid processor architecture. Processors based on it have a working name – Core-1800 SKU, but it is unlikely to be final. Samples of the new chips were studied, they include 8 high-performance Golden Cove cores and 8 energy-efficient Gracemont cores.

The base clock speed of the chip is 1.8 GHz. But with TurboBoost enabled, the processor will be able to show much better performance, up to 4.6 GHz. It is also known that the new generation of processors will be installed in the new Socket V (LGA1700) socket. This applies to both Intel Alder Lake-S chips and the next generation, Raptor Lake-S. What does it mean? Complete incompatibility of processors with all currently released motherboards and cooling systems.

New expenses are coming

All in all, it makes sense that new sockets would mean buying new motherboards for 12th generation processors. But this is not just a matter of sockets – the new processors have a different shape, which entails the need to modify the accompanying systems.

The processors are thinner than the previous generation, but longer and wider. The developers have added a new heat distribution cover to the novelty. The thickness of the socket is also slightly reduced. The difference in size is not that great – only about 1 mm, but it will have to be taken into account.

So, almost any model of modern coolers will not fit new chips, simply because they will not fit snugly against the processor cover, which means that there will be no normal cooling. But the problem is not only that – in modern cooling systems, the mounting holes are located differently than is required for installation on new boards.

The owner of the resource Igor’sLAB managed to obtain blueprints for the new systems. He confirmed their incompatibility with existing systems. At the same time, he contacted Cooler Master, who provided the MasterLiquid ML360 Sub-Zero cooling system. We managed to establish it, and the cooling results were quite good. But the problem here is that this system itself consumes a large amount of energy – no less than the processor itself.

Above is a photo of this system. The author emphasizes that all this is pure experiment, which is unlikely to be useful for real cases.

It’s not all bad

If the owner of a new system does not have the goal of using all the processor’s resources, then he may not have to buy a new cooling system along with the board and the processor itself. The point is that Intel plans equip your chips with a basic cooling system. But its capabilities are only enough to remove heat from the processor operating at standard frequencies. It is unclear whether the cooler radiator will be equipped with copper inserts.

On the other hand, the world is full of manufacturers who, in a short time, will be able to launch the production of adapters for existing cooling systems. Everything is quite logical here – if the user has an expensive and effective system, he is unlikely to be happy with the prospect of purchasing another one. Rather, most users will agree to pay extra for an adapter that will allow existing coolers to be installed on new processors.

There are examples of such systems, a similar approach was used, for example, by Noctua for some modifications of cooling systems that are incompatible with AM4 sockets. Cooler Noctua NH-U9S, for example, is not suitable for installation on this socket. But the company has released special NM-AM4-UxS mounting adapters that solve this problem.

And if the cooling system costs about 7000 rubles, then the mounting adapter for it is only 540. It may well be that right now Chinese manufacturers are already designing adapters for new boards for old cooling systems – after all, the dimensions and specifications are already known.

What is known about the new processors

Now there is information about the size of the new socket. Instead of a square with sides 37.5 mm long, it will be a rectangle with side lengths 35.5 × 45.0 mm.

The 12th generation Intel processors have several modifications, more precisely, families:

  • Alder Lake-S – For desktop PCs.
  • Alder Lake-P – for powerful laptops.
  • Alder Lake-M – for low power devices.
  • Alder Lake-L – for mobile devices.
  • Alder Lake-N – for all other devices, including not very powerful laptops, chromebooks, etc.

They differ from each other in the same number of cores. For example, low-power chips will have more energy-efficient Atom cores, processors for performance systems will have more high-performance Core cores. The chips for gaming laptops and desktop PCs have only Core, which will allow for maximum performance.

In single-threaded mode, the processors will be able to provide 2x the performance increase compared to the previous generation, Rocket Lake. In multithreading, everything is not so rosy, but even here the performance gain will be about 20%, which is quite good.

New chips should appear at the end of 2021, it is then that they are expected to be shipped to vendors of various kinds of computer systems. Devices based on 12th generation processors will appear in early 2022, perhaps a little later.

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