Intel Alder Lake-HX: First 16-core PCIe Gen 5 mobile platform launched led by the 157 W Core i9-12950HX, supplants Xeons for mobile workstations
We first reported exclusively about the possibility of Intel offering an Alder Lake desktop-class processor in a BGA format for laptops back in 2020. Later, we came to know that Intel would indeed be offering a distinct class of Alder Lake BGA processors in a 55 W unlocked TDP codenamed "Muscle".
Today, Intel officially launched the Alder Lake-HX platform designed to cater to enthusiast gamers and workstation workloads on the move.
Intel 12th gen Alder Lake-HX: First 16-core mobile platform with PCIe Gen 5
Alder Lake-HX is essentially an Alder Lake-S LGA chip repackaged in a BGA format. Thus, unlike other mobile Alder Lake variants, there is no on-package PCH.
Alder Lake-HX offers up to eight P-cores and eight E-cores along with a 32-execution unit (EU) integrated GPU. The iGPU EU count is lower compared to other Alder Lake mobile variants since laptops with these processors invariably come with a fairly powerful discrete GPU. Intel says all Alder Lake-HX CPUs come fully unlocked, though both memory and all-core overclock is only possible with the Core i9-12900HX and the Core i7-12800HX.
Both DDR5-4800 and DDR4-3200 memory types are supported. Alder Lake-HX is the first platform to bring PCIe Gen5 support to mobile. The CPU directly supports 16 PCIe Gen 5 lanes, and the platform as a whole supports a massive 48 lanes including 16 Gen 5 from the CPU and 20 Gen 4 and 12 Gen 3 lanes from the PCH. The CPU itself connects to the chipset via a dedicated x8 PCIe Gen 4 lanes.
The platform also supports ECC memory, RAID 1, 0, and 5, and certifications for workstations with popular ISVs such as AutoCAD, Adobe, etc. OEMs can also equip their devices with two discrete Thunderbolt 4 controllers for maximum I/O expansion. Also available is support for DDR5 overclocking along with XMP 3.0 support.
Performance: Significant gains over the Core i9-11980HK but not too far from the Core i9-12900HK
As usual, Intel showed off quite a few benchmark numbers to show how well the flagship Core i9-12900HX performs. Intel primarily compares it against the Core i9-11980HK, but it has also thrown in rival CPUs such as the Ryzen 9 6900HX and the Apple M1 Max for good measure.
According to Intel's slides, the Core i9-12900HX seems to having perceivable advantages over the Core i9-12900HK only in certain professional workloads. SPECworkstation CPU tests show good leads, however.
The Core i9-12900HX seems to put up a good show at 1080p in combination with an RTX 3080 Ti and 64 GB DDR5-4800 memory, though Intel does not show any particular comparisons here.
On that note, Intel did tell us that notebooks with Alder Lake-HX and Arc can be expected but didn't confirm any specifics. However, most OEMs can be expected to debut their offerings mostly with Nvidia cards.
Pricing and Availability: No more Xeons for mobile workstations
Intel is offering a total of seven SKUs under the Alder Lake-HX umbrella. These start from the 8C/12T Core i5-12450HX and are led by the flagship 16C/24T Core i9-12950HX. All CPUs are rated for a 55 W TDP at the base clock but can up to 157 W at boost.
Intel confirmed to us that there will be no mobile Xeons this generation. Instead, the company looks to substitute them with vPro offerings. Only three of the seven SKUs — the Core i9-12950HX, Core i7-12850HX, and the Core i5-12600HX — are eligible for vPro designs.
Intel did mention a few laptops that would be available with Alder Lake-HX including the Asus ROG Scar 17 SE, Asus ExpertBook B6, Dell Precision 7670 and 7770, MSI GT77 Titan, MSI GE67/77 Raider, Gigabyte Aorus 15X/17X, Lenovo Legion 7i, and the HP Omen 17. More designs are expected over the course of the year.
Intel Press Brief