Intel Nova Lake enthusiast desktop CPUs expected to launch in H2 2026 with more than 60% IPC gains over Raptor Lake
Intel’s Nova Lake family was first leaked in 2021 and, back then, it was supposed to launch in 2025 with a heavily redesigned Core architecture for the desktop enthusiast market, similar to how first gen Ryzen improved performance for AMD. No other updates for this family have been made in the meantime, but now, sources close to Moore’s Law Is Dead claim that Nova Lake is still in the works and its launch window somehow got pushed to H2 2026. MLID also provides some tentative specs that are not probably set in stone given the advanced time horizon.
Even though Intel said that reliance on TSMC’s production nodes should end by 2025, it looks like Nova Lake could still partially be built on TSMC’s N2P nodes if not entirely on Intel’s successor of the 18A node (MLID calls it 14A). It all depends on how well Intel’s angstrom nodes can ramp up in the next few years.
For now, Nova Lake is set to feature up to 16 rentable unit (new hyperthreading tech) performance cores + 32 improved efficiency cores codenamed Arctic Wolf + 4 low power efficiency cores. This core count should provide enough performance to compete with whatever comes after AMD’s Zen6 processors in 2026, with 20-40% single-thread performance gains over Arrow Lake, and a whooping 60+% improvement over the upcoming Raptor Lake Refresh. High-end Core Ultra 9 processors are expected to integrate as much as 180 MB of last level cache, while Core Ultra 7 models may get up to 144 MB.
From what we have learned via MLID’s previous leaks, AMD is likely to launch its Zen6 processors in late 2025, whereas Zen7 might launch in 2027. If Intel launches Nova Lake in late 2026, it would actually try to catch up and dethrone Zen6, not Zen7, so Intel’s release schedule could be significantly desynced and end up one step behind AMD for the next few years.