16-core Intel Alder Lake-S chip shows what it has to take on AMD's Zen 3 and Zen 4 with i9-10900K level Geekbench performance and curveball clock rates
The hybrid “big.LITTLE”-like architecture of Intel’s Alder Lake series has once again been throwing up more questions than answers after making a benchmark appearance. HotHardware (via VideoCardz) spotted a 16-core, 24-thread Alder Lake-S CPU being tested on Geekbench 4, where it recorded a single-core score of 6,536 points and a multi-core score of 47,870 points. They aren’t devastating results that will leave owners of a Ryzen 9 5950X awake at night, but they are respectable enough for a sample at an early stepping level. The results put the unnamed Alder Lake chip on a similar level as the Intel Core i9-10900K, which has 10 cores and 20 threads.
But it’s more than likely the Alder Lake chip’s unique setup makes testing it on synthetic benchmarks a little tricky. The processor has eight Golden Cove cores that can utilize SMT and are for high-performance tasks, and it also has eight Gracemont cores for efficiency that don’t operate on multiple threads. This leaves a core/thread configuration of 8C/16T + 8C/8T = 16C/24T. The i9-10900K has clock rates of 3.7 GHz to 5.3 GHz whereas the 10nm Alder Lake CPU appears to operate from 2.2 GHz to “27.2 GHz”. A hypothesis that the benchmark is reading the maximum frequency at an 8x higher rate has been put forward, which would leave a more likely boost rate of 3.4 GHz.
If the 2.2 GHz to 3.4 GHz rates for the 16-core Alder Lake-S CPU are accurate, then this is actually a terrific benchmark run, with more to come as further refinements are made. This Intel chip would certainly hold up well against Ryzen 5000 parts in general, especially if the Gracemont cores really helped with some power saving. But Alder Lake is expected to appear by the fourth quarter of 2021, right on time to face off against the Zen 3 refresh (Warhol) from AMD that should be followed by Zen 4 (Raphael) in the first half of 2022. With everything that has been rumored and said about Zen 4 so far, you have to wonder if DDR5 support, power saving, and Comet Lake-level performance is going to be enough for Intel Alder Lake to stay relevant.