Intel 'Alder Lake' chips take same approach as Apple's ARM designs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2021
During CES 2021, Intel showed off its next-generation Alder Lake family of chips, which the company says offers a "significant breakthrough" for the x86 architecture.

Credit: Intel
Credit: Intel


The hybrid Alder Lake chipsets will use a design similar to Apple's M1 chips, incorporating both high-performance and high-efficiency cores in a single package.

That's similar to the "Lakefield" processors that Intel previewed last year. The Alder Lake family, Intel says, will be the foundation for future desktop and mobile processors.

Intel said that the first computers equipped with this "most power-scalable system-on-chip" would debut in the second half of 2021.

The first computers with Alder Lake chips are set to debut as soon as the second half of 2021. Credit: Intel
The first computers with Alder Lake chips are set to debut as soon as the second half of 2021. Credit: Intel


The 12th-generation Alder Lake chips will feature an "enhanced version" of the 10-nanometer SuperFin designs that have already shown up in Intel's Tiger Lake family. Alder Lake chips will also feature a combination of high-power "Golden Lake" cores and new "Gracemont" power-efficiency cores.

Unlike Intel's past forays into hybrid chips, the company has plans for the Alder Lake family that stretch beyond mobile devices. The move suggests that Intel is taking inspiration from Apple's own silicon success with ARM-based chips.

The announcement comes amid increasing pressure on Intel to explore strategic options in the face of losing its supremacy in the silicon industry.

It isn't clear at this point how many more Macs will use Intel chips going forward. The last time Apple released a macOS device with an Intel chip was the 2020 iMac lineup in August.

The transition to Apple Silicon, which Apple says will take about two years, is already underway. In 2020, Apple released a new Mac mini, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air devices with proprietary chipsets. In June 2020, however, Apple made mention that it has "some new Intel-based Macs in the pipeline" that have yet to see a release.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    So they have a CISC architecture that requires more transistors than a RISC design like the M1 and they are using a 10nm process while Apple is already at 5nm. Sounds like a plan. 
    edited January 2021 CuJoYYCchaickawwinter86d_2rob53plastico23elijahgRayz2016entropysSpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 52
    borps said:
    So they have a CISC architecture that requires more transistors than a RISC design like the M1 and they are using a 10nm process while Apple is already at 5nm. Sounds like a plan. 

    It is probably the best option they have. They can't just start using 5nm. And they do not really need to try to compete with Apple. It's highly unlikely Apple is going to sell their chips to anyone else for use with Windows. So Intel really only needs to compete with AMD and the pitiful ARM SoCs designed by Samsung/Qualcomm/Rockchip/etc.

    Saying Intel is emulating Apple's ARM design is a little bit misleading. They are basing this off of big.LITTLE and DynamIQ. Neither were designed by Apple.

    canukstormd_2doozydozenmuthuk_vanalingamavon b7macplusplusGeorgeBMacwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 52
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    edited January 2021 d_2maximaraBeatswatto_cobrajcs2305
  • Reply 4 of 52
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    Intel’a and TSMC’s nm don’t exactly compare, because they use different processes.
    If I remember what seems to be one generation apart, is actually comparable.

    So intel’s 10nm is like TSMC’s 7nm

    Of course TSMC/Apple already being at 5nm, intel is still one generation behind, they should be at 7nm using their processes, rather than at 10nm

    IIRC intel stacks things higher, so they can get similar density with a seemingly one-generation behind process, but they also need comparatively wider traces due to the kind of 3D structure, or something like that. There was an in-depth article on that somewhere, of which I only remember fragments. Point being, intel is behind, but not as much as it seems, but they are being held back by a legacy chip architecture.

    Eventually they may just have to do a new RISC architecture, but one designed to run a Rosetta-like software layer for x86 emulation particularly efficiently, i.e. quasi exposing microcode as RISC instruction set...
    elijahgviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 52
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.

    And what exactly is going to kill them? Apple? Not a chance. The commercial/enterprise market buys that majority of Intel's chips. They are not going to switch over to OS X simply because the M1 is superior. They are way too dependent on Microsoft's tightly integrated product offerings to change over to something else for a performance gain that won't make a real impact on productivity or efficiency. Similarly, Apple has no interest in entering the data center market. Intel's market is pretty safe.
    edited January 2021 williamlondoncanukstormelijahgviclauyycmwhitebeowulfschmidtGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 52
    It doesn’t matter. 

    They are still the x86 ancient architecture. 

    Sad to say, but with this move, Intel is showing that they are determined to either become a small player or die out. 

    RISC is the future. And simply slapping on some efficiency cores may help battery life when not doing much but won’t change performance s d will take more power under performance load. 

    Intel needs to develop a fresh RISC fab. They could spend a couple years and develop an all new thing. 

    But they aren’t going to. And they will diminish severely. Sad day. 

    If emulating Apples M1 design were actually helpful, other ARM based competitors would be matching it already. They aren’t. Because it can’t be emulated. M1 isn’t what it is because it has efficiency cores. And it isn’t what it is because it’s started out from an ARM based core. It is what it is due to the proprietary design chips of (formerly) P.A. SEMI. 

    Apple has the best chip design team on the planet. And that won’t change. 
    williamlondond_2rob53plastico23elijahgMplsPdoozydozenchiamaximaraemcnair
  • Reply 7 of 52
    Catfish29 said:
    borps said:
    So they have a CISC architecture that requires more transistors than a RISC design like the M1 and they are using a 10nm process while Apple is already at 5nm. Sounds like a plan. 

    It is probably the best option they have. They can't just start using 5nm. And they do not really need to try to compete with Apple. It's highly unlikely Apple is going to sell their chips to anyone else for use with Windows. So Intel really only needs to compete with AMD and the pitiful ARM SoCs designed by Samsung/Qualcomm/Rockchip/etc.

    Saying Intel is emulating Apple's ARM design is a little bit misleading. They are basing this off of big.LITTLE and DynamIQ. Neither were designed by Apple.

     It's highly unlikely Apple is going to sell their chips to anyone else for use with Windows.”

    It is 100% unlikely. 
    chiatechconcwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 52
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
     Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    williamlondonelijahgGeorgeBMacargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 52
    XedXed Posts: 2,708member
    Catfish29 said:
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.

    And what exactly is going to kill them? Apple? Not a chance. The commercial/enterprise market buys that majority of Intel's chips. They are not going to switch over to OS X simply because the M1 is superior. They are way too dependent on Microsoft's tightly integrated product offerings to change over to something else for a performance gain that won't make a real impact on productivity or efficiency. Similarly, Apple has no interest in entering the data center market. Intel's market is pretty safe.
    Just like the iPhone with the 1% Jobs wanted to take was never going to effect Blackberry or Palm? Or… Apple shows how something can be fundamentally better which causes a rapid shift in the market. If you don't expect data centers to push even more heavily toward fast and efficient ARM-based systems and for MS to continue to build out Windows for ARM-based system with more cross-compatibility then I have a bright to sell you.
    JWSCtechconcargonautBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 52
    XedXed Posts: 2,708member
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    “ Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    Longterm that isn't the case. Performance per watt is not on Intel's (or AMD's) side.
    Rayz2016argonautwilliamlondonBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 52
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,966member
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    “ Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    Unless Microsoft releases a true ARM version of windows; then suddenly there's far less reason to stick with x86 chips.
    doozydozenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 52
    XedXed Posts: 2,708member
    MplsP said:
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    “ Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    Unless Microsoft releases a true ARM version of windows; then suddenly there's far less reason to stick with x86 chips.
    They already have that and Linux runs on more ARM-based devices than any other architecture. It's only a matter of time. For MS, unfortunately, it's kind of like how they approached 64-bit. They'll make the switch but it'll be a long and sloppy move. I hope I'm wrong and hey can learn how to support more than one architecture in an OS well for the sake of developers and consumers, but history isn't on their side.
    techconcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 52
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,729member
    MplsP said:
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    “ Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    Unless Microsoft releases a true ARM version of windows; then suddenly there's far less reason to stick with x86 chips.
    They’ve had a true ARM version of Windows for two years now but so far it’s hardly gained any traction with users or developers. I can assure you that Apple has sold more M1 Macs in the last two months than the combined total of ARM-based Windows devices sold in the last two years. 
    edited January 2021 fastasleepmaximaraBeatswatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 52
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,729member
    Xed said:
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.
    “ Too little too late”

    Don’t agree. 99% of the laptop / desktop is powered by x86. If there is anything Intel has, it’s time. Apple is literally the only company making an ARM SoC that is a threat to Intel & that’s only going to be available for Macs. There’s nothing Qualcomm has right now that comes remotely close to challenging x86. 
    Longterm that isn't the case. Performance per watt is not on Intel's (or AMD's) side.
    I’m not privy to Intel’s processor roadmap so that remains to be seen. I’m not ready to count
    them out just yet. Time is on Intel’s side. Whether they squander it or not is up to them. 
  • Reply 15 of 52
    Xed said:
    Catfish29 said:
    Too little too late. With all their resources, wtf, why are they so fucking far behind the curve?

    This is merely the dying last gasp from a cash cow that became so fat from it’s monopolistic position that it couldn’t move out of its own way.

    Now go, you serpent, go tongue kiss and embrace Microsoft goodnight and we’ll all enjoy a double pyrotechnic display unparalleled in the tech world since its Big Bang creation those mere decades ago.

    The world will suffer neither of your demises.

    And what exactly is going to kill them? Apple? Not a chance. The commercial/enterprise market buys that majority of Intel's chips. They are not going to switch over to OS X simply because the M1 is superior. They are way too dependent on Microsoft's tightly integrated product offerings to change over to something else for a performance gain that won't make a real impact on productivity or efficiency. Similarly, Apple has no interest in entering the data center market. Intel's market is pretty safe.
    Just like the iPhone with the 1% Jobs wanted to take was never going to effect Blackberry or Palm? Or… Apple shows how something can be fundamentally better which causes a rapid shift in the market. If you don't expect data centers to push even more heavily toward fast and efficient ARM-based systems and for MS to continue to build out Windows for ARM-based system with more cross-compatibility then I have a bright to sell you.
    First there has to be a viable product to shift to. No one other than Apple can make an ARM processor even remotely competitive to Intel at this time. It is not clear when that will change. People have been predicting the death of x86 for decades. It may happen in the next decade and it may not. At this point Intel's biggest threat is certainly AMD, who has made a competitive product available today. Intel's corporate customers can easily switch over to AMD.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 52
    borps said:
    So they have a CISC architecture that requires more transistors than a RISC design like the M1 and they are using a 10nm process while Apple is already at 5nm. Sounds like a plan. 
    If I remembered correctly, Intel had a RISC-like core with CICS translation in "micro-code" to translate x86 instructions.  That was how Intel was able to increase frequencies so quickly back in the 90's
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 52
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,224member
    It isn’t clear from the article how it is adopting M1 tech.
    isn’t it just offering a chip with some high performance cores and some low performance cores? That will help battery performance I would think, but not do much for outright performance, if not in fact detrimental at multicore.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 52
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,927member
    “high-power "Golden Lake" cores
    They’ve already got high-power cores, they need high-performance cores.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 52
    Intel during CES 2021 showed off its next-generation Alder Lake family of chips, which it says offers a "significant breakthrough" for the x86 architecture.

    Credit: Intel
    This reminded me of Forrest Gump.
    In the voice-over, Forrest says "Bubba knew everything there is to know about the shrimp business". Cut-to Bubba saying "I know everything there is to know about the shrimp business"!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 52
    Apple did mention that it has ‘some new Intel based Macs in the pipeline’ that have yet to see a release.”

    These were probably the Intel-based iMac Pros which were released after the Apple silicon announcement. 
    They received a minor processor bump, so nothing groundbreaking. 
    jdb8167watto_cobra
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