Intel Alder-Lake & efficiency: Intel's newest CPUs might cut down the battery life
Intel's 2022 platform codenamed "Alder Lake", officially known as "Intel 12th Gen Core i", has a huge innovation with the hybrid architecture. The construction with fast P cores and "small" E cores enables Intel to boost the multicore performance. At the same time, the E cores promise better battery life, as the "E" stands for "efficiency". This is also a necessity: In the fight with AMD Ryzen 6000 and the Apple M1 platform, Intel needs more than brute force performance.
In practice however, the hybrid architecture might underdeliver on the efficiency part. At this point, many Alder Lake laptops have not been reviewed yet, so no final verdict can be made. However, new spec sheets from Lenovo for 12th Gen laptops indicate that Alder Lake will not increase the battery life. On the contrary, Alder Lake might actually lead to worse battery endurance.
For example: The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 G2 (available from Amazon, affiliate link). This 2021 model was supposed to achieve a battery life of 14.5 hours with the bigger 54.7 Wh battery in the MobileMark 2018 test. Its successor, the ThinkPad X13 G3 that is identical to the G2 except for the new processor Intel Core i5-1240P, is rated for 11.8 hours in the same test.
This is not an exception: The ThinkPad X1 Nano G2 has a battery life rating of 11 hours in MobileMark 2018, less than the X1 Nano G1 (13.6 hours), even though the new model has a slightly larger battery (49.5 Wh instead of 48 Wh). Same goes for the X1 Carbon G10: 15 hours in MobileMark 2018 are significantly less than the 16.7 hours for the X1 Carbon G9.
If these numbers translate into worse battery life across all Alder Lake laptops, the outlook for Intel is not too good. After all, the upcoming Alder Lake refresh "Raptor Lake" will still be manufactured in the same Intel 7 process. An efficiency improvement will probably not happen until the 2023 release Meteor Lake arrives, which will be the first Intel architecture to use the new "Intel 4" process.