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Intel is on the verge of launching its 13th generation Raptor Lake processors. These chips are an evolution of its Alder Lake architecture, with more efficient cores, higher clock speeds and other slight improvements – sort of a ‘tock’ refinement of technology we’ve seen in previous years. As the company prepares to launch, it has begun training its sales staff with new talking points for Raptor Lake. This obviously involves a lot of Powerpoint along with conference calls with global sales teams. The folks at Igor’s Lab got their hands on Intel’s sales package, which lets us see its “go-to-market” strategy for Raptor Lake. Overall, there’s nothing surprising here, but it does show us what Intel considers the defining features of the new platform.

The company confirms that it launches with six processors: Core i9-13900, i7-13700 and i5-13600. All six processors will be available in both K and KF variants, with the K unlocked and the KF unlocked and without an integrated GPU. This is also where we see the specification differentiation as only the flagship CPU has Thermal Velocity Boost at “up to” 5.8 GHz. This will allow a single core to reach these clocks if there is enough thermal and voltage. Additionally, we see that only the i9 and i7 SKUs offer Turbo Boost Max 3.0. This allows two cores to scale to the specified clocks if there is enough power and cooling.

This feature does not appear in the Core i5 models, although they can increase to 5.1 GHz for the performance cores. That’s a 200MHz increase over the Alder Lake variant. The Core i9 gets a 500MHz clock boost, er, boost, and the Core i7 gets a 400MHz maximum clock boost. The chart below also confirms a maximum TDP of 253W for the Core i9 and i7 variants. This will be compared to AMD’s 170W Ryzen 9 7950X and 7900X processors, which max out at 230W. Rumor has it that Intel will offer an “extreme performance” mode on some Z790 boards that will remove this limiter, allowing up to 350W of juice to be consumed.

Intel’s Raptor Lake SKU; click to expand. (Image: Intel via Igor’s Lab)

Overall, the Raptor Lake banner features, according to slides obtained by Igor’s laboratory, include more efficient cores, faster memory support, better motherboard compatibility from AMD, more cache and faster performance cores. Starting at the top, things are simple with more cores; it adds eight more efficient cores to the i9 processor, for a total of 16. This will enable Intel’s first 32-threaded processor in the Core i9-13900K, as the performance cores are hyperthreaded. Finally, it will be able to compete thread-to-thread with AMD’s Zen 4.

(Image: Intel via Igor’s Lab)

As for memory, Raptor Lake will support DDR5 5600 MT/s, compared to Alder Lake’s maximum of 4800 MT/s. It will also support DDR4 for budget builds, which is a big selling point compared to the DDR5-only Zen 4. It’s unclear what AMD’s goal is when it comes to memory speeds, but 6000 MT/s is already being discussed as the sweet spot. Either way, the “better compatibility” from AMD is a legitimate point here. The same goes for motherboard support, as it will work with older 600-series motherboards. This is not the case with the Zen 4, which requires the purchase of an entirely new motherboard, along with new memory.

When it comes to cache, Intel is taking a page from AMD’s book. Increased L2 and L3 cache for Raptor Lake. For L2, it uses 1.25 MB per core for Alder Lake performance. This is increased to 2MB per core, for a total of 32MB. It has also doubled the L2 effective cores from 2MB to 4MB and this is shared between four core clusters. L3 has been increased from 30MB of shared memory to a total of 36MB.

(Image: Intel via Igor’s Lab)

The new performance cores are called Raptor Cove, as opposed to Alder Lake’s Golden Cove cores. They are made on an advanced Intel 7 process allowing for higher clocks. The efficient cores called Gracemont are unchanged, but there are more of them.

The only other significant change Intel is pushing is more PCIe 4.0 lanes compared to Alder Lake, going from 12 to 20. At the same time, it’s reducing the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes from 16 to eight. The PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 lanes to the CPU are unchanged at four and 16, respectively. The Z790 chipset will offer one additional USB 3.2 lane, making it five versus the Z690’s four.

Overall, a slight upgrade as expected. However, it may be exactly what Intel needed to do before moving to its “disaggregated” architecture with Meteor Lake. Raptor Lake was always a holdover before Intel took a huge step forward with its first chip-based processor. Despite its evolutionary design, leaked benchmarks show it making impressive gains over Alder Lake. How this will fare with AMD’s all-new architecture remains to be seen.

AMD is releasing Zen 4 on September 27th. Intel is rumored to launch around the same time as it looks to steal AMD’s thunder.

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