Intel confirms Rocket Lake-S with PCIe Gen4 support coming to desktops in Q1 2021
After having launched Tiger Lake for ultrabooks and having announced Tiger Lake-H for gaming laptops and the Alder Lake hybrid CPU platform, Intel has now officially confirmed Rocket Lake-S for desktops. While the confirmation is welcome, the company has not yet officially provided any detailed core configurations or platform specifications.
Intel's recent marketing trends have been primarily gaming-centric and today's announcement is also on similar lines. Intel's VP and GM of Client Computing Group Desktop, Workstations, and Gaming, John Bonini, goes into some of the collaborations the company has with studios such as Unreal, iQiyi, Huya, Bandai, Namco, Ubisoft, Sega, Joyy, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, etc. Importantly, Bonini talks about Intel's advantage in game titles such as Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, Gears Tactics, and A Total War Saga: Troy.
From Bonini's post,
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 — helped implement Software Masked Occlusion Culling, efficiently rendering only the pixels, and the objects they make, that are visible to the player. Worked on significant optimizations to improve performance on integrated graphics solutions like 11th Gen “Tiger Lake”.
Gears Tactics — partnered with The Coalition on Gears Tactics to support deployment of Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and improve Asynchronous Compute. VRS reduces the pixel complexity of a scene to effectively give Gears Tactics a performance boost without sacrificing visual fidelity. Asynchronous Compute allows for certain graphics workloads to run in parallel, allowing the game to perform more back-end graphics processes to keep your session running smooth.
A Total War Saga: Troy — worked with Creative Assembly to optimize gameplay and realism with the high frequency and core counts available on 10th Intel® Core™ processors to give the game’s environmental effects (e.g. the grass and water systems) more depth and complexity".
While a great extent of the blog post focuses on why Intel processors are beneficial for gamers, Bonini does finally mention Rocket Lake is coming in the first quarter of 2021. Rocket Lake will bring support for PCIe Gen4 as well. Bonini writes,
It’ll be another fantastic processor for gaming, and we’re excited to disclose more details in the near future. There’s a lot more to come, so stay tuned!"
Unfortunately, that is all the official information we have for now.
Rocket Lake-S rumored specs
Intel may not have much to reveal at the moment, but there have already been several rumors doing the rounds about the purported specs of Rocket Lake-S. From what we know so far, Rocket Lake-S will be based on a new core architecture called Cypress Core, which is expected to be a backport of Willow Cove on the 14 nm process. The platform is likely to be quite a distinctive upgrade from Comet Lake-S and will feature Xe-LP integrated graphics along with support for PCIe Gen4.
Rocket Lake-S should be compatible with current 400-series LGA 1200 motherboards and those that have been advertised as "hardware ready" for PCIe Gen4 stand to reap the benefits of the new interface. Of course, a new generation of 500-series motherboards is also on the horizon along with expected memory overclocking abilities slated to come to the B560 series.
An interesting aspect here is that so far all rumors indicate that Rocket Lake-S will top out with an 8-core 16-thread part at 125 W even though the predecessor Comet Lake-S Core i9-10900K is available with 10 cores. That being said, the rumored IPC uplift can be expected to somewhat offset the lack of a higher core count and may be of good benefit to gamers.
How well Rocket Lake-S can compete with AMD Zen 3 Vermeer remains to be seen. With the Zen 3 launch just around the corner, we won't have to wait long to hazard a guess.