Intel's 11th Gen desktop CPUs could be split between two different architectures

Intel Engineer
(Image credit: Intel)

Buyer beware, rumor has it that not all of Intel's next-generation desktop CPUs will be based on the same architecture, the one that is supposed to deliver a double-digit gain in IPC (instructions per clock) performance and other goodies. They will, however, all be labeled as 11th Gen Core parts.

Rocket Lake-S is a brand new architecture that is supposed to shake things up for Intel, and potentially retake the gaming performance crown from AMD (maybe). It is still being built on a 14-nanometer manufacturing process, but is not another variation of Skylake. At the risk of bogging you down with codenames, Rocket Lake-S will feature up to eight Cypress Cove cores (and 16 threads), paired with Intel's Xe graphics.

In addition to delivering double-digit IPC gains, Rocket Lake-S will include PCIe 4.0 support for up to 20 lanes. It will also have new media encoders (HEVC, VP9, AVI up to 4K60), a bolstered memory controller supporting speeds of up to DDR4-3200, a Deep Learning Boost feature for improved AI performance, and a few other things.

According to Expreview, however, Rocket Lake-S will be reserved for Intel's 11th Gen Core i9, Core i7, and Core i5 SKUs. Meanwhile, Core i3 SKUs will be a refresh of Comet Lake-S (as will upcoming Pentium and Celeron models), and will not support PCIe 4.0.

Comet Lake Refresh CPUs will also lack Xe graphics. Instead, some models will be paired with Intel's UHD Graphics 630 solution with 24 execution units, while others will lean on the slower UHD Graphics 610 solution with 12 execution units.

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I'm really not a fan of this approach. Intel's 'Gen' labeling is already confusing. For example, Intel's 10th Gen Core processors are split between 10nm (Ice Lake) and 14nm (Comet Lake) designs.

It's not just Intel, though. Rumor has it AMD will split is next-gen laptop CPUs between Zen 3 (Cezanne) and Zen 2 (Lucienne). If past leaks are accurate, the upcoming Ryzen 7 5800U will be a Zen 3 part, while the Ryzen 7 5700U will be based on Zen 2. And so it goes on down the line.

What this ultimately means is you will need to pay attention to what you are buying, and do a bit of extra research to ensure you're getting the architecture (and accompanying performance and features) you want.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).