Intel CPU roadmap shoots for the moon with Lunar Lake drivers hitting Linux years ahead of launch

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(Image credit: Intel)

Intel is looking far, far ahead of where it's at today according to a recent update to its Linux driver stack. While we're anticipating Intel Rocket Lake chips later this month, Intel is eyeing up Lunar Lake processors some three or more years in the future.

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There's not much to go on in the patch update beyond the name, Intel Lunar Lake, and confirmation that this will be a client platform. The patch was signed off by an Intel employee, at least, so you know that there's certainly a decent chance that this processor lineup will see the light of day. That said, a lot can change in a couple of years, and processors can be canned before their time. 

Intel's ethernet drivers appear to be some of the first to receive support for unreleased chips ahead of time. Yet it appears there's no real rhyme or reason to when they appear, as VideoCardz notes, which means there's not much to discern from the timing of this patch's arrival.

Intel Lunar Lake should follow Meteor Lake CPUs, another unreleased and not yet detailed CPU architecture. Meteor Lake is supposed to represent the first 7nm Intel client processors. Though there is another generation before that, codenamed Raptor Lake. Again, we know very little about this one, though there are rumours that Raptor Lake will effectively be a refresh of this year's big new Intel CPU design.

That big new design will be Alder Lake, which represents a monumental shakeup in CPU architecture for the chipmaking company. So one can assume that all those thereafter will feature similarly disparate architectures from those around today.

Intel Alder Lake is still on track to arrive later this year, and will feature the 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process node for the first time on desktop. That's not the massive shift in design we're talking about, however. That's the hybrid design of Alder Lake. These chip will feature up to eight 'big' cores, built from the Golden Cove architecture, and up to eight 'little' cores. Those little cores will be based on the low-power architecture usually found in Atom chips, but a newer and reportedly much more effective version than what's around today, codename Gracemont.

These chips are also said to be the first to arrive with DDR5 RAM support on desktop, and we've seen heaps of memory manufacturers roll out the precursors to compatible kits over the past few months. PCIe 5.0 support is also incoming.

Intel Lunar Lake will likely take shape as a far more advanced version of what Alder Lake will arrive as later this year, then. Pending any major shakeups.

For now, though, it's all eyes on Intel Rocket Lake, and whether it will be able to play catch-up with AMD's Ryzen 5000 chips. 

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.