In a blog post on Medium today, Intel’s John Bonini has confirmed that the company will be launching its next-generation desktop platform in Q1 2021. This is confirmed as Rocket Lake, presumably under Intel’s 11th Gen Core branding, and will feature PCIe 4.0 support. After several months (and Z490 motherboards) mentioning Rocket Lake and PCIe 4.0 support, this note from Intel is the primary source that confirms it all.

The blog post doesn’t go into any further detail about Rocket Lake. From our side of the fence, we assume this is another 14nm processor, with questions as to whether it is built upon the same Skylake architecture as the previous five generations of 14nm, or is a back-port of Intel’s latest Cove microarchitecture designs. Add in PCIe 4.0 support rather than PCIe 3.0 - there’s no specific indication at this time that there will be an increase in PCIe lane counts from the CPU, although that has been an idea that has been floated. Some motherboards, such as the ASRock Z490 Aqua, seem to have been built with the idea of a PCIe 4.0 specific storage M.2 slot, which when in use makes the PCIe 3.0 slot no longer accessible.

It is notable in the blog that John Bonini (VP/GM for Intel’s Desktop/Workstation/Gaming) cites high processor frequencies as a key metric for high performance in games and popular applications, mentioning Intel’s various Turbo Boost technologies. In the same paragraph, he then cites overclocking Intel’s processors to 7 GHz, failing to mention that this sort of overclocking isn’t done for the sake of gaming or workflow. The blog post also seems to bounce between talking about enthusiast gamers on the bleeding edge and squeezing out every bit of performance at the top-end, to then mentioning casual gamers on mobile graphics; it’s comes across as erratic and a bit bipolar. Note that this blog post is also posted on Medium, rather than Intel’s own website, for whatever reason, and also seems to change font size mid-paragraph in the version we were sent.

The reason why this blog post is being today, in my opinion, is two-fold. Firstly, recent unconfirmed leaks regarding Intel’s roadmap has placed the next generation of desktop processor firmly into that Q1/Q2 crossover in 2021. By coming out and confirming a Q1 launch window, Intel is at least putting those rumors to bed. The second reason is down to what the competition is announcing: AMD has a Zen3 related presentation on October 8th, and so with Intel’s footnote, we at least know what’s going on with both team blue and team red.

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Source: Intel

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  • eek2121 - Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - link

    March 21 is one date and March 10th is the other I think. One was Tiger Lake H and the other was Rocket Lake S, exhausted so I can't remember which is which...
  • Jorgp2 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    >there’s no specific indication at this time that there will be an increase in PCIe lane counts from the CPU, although that has been an idea that has been floated.

    Most z490 boards specify an additional 4x lanes from the CPU. In the form of 8+8(+4)
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    In addition to the expected dedicated CPU-connected NVMe M.2 slot, I'm curious to see how the increase in DMI bandwidth is handled. Early Intel slides showed it as an eight lane DMI 3.0 (8GB/s) link, up from the existing four lane DMI 3.0 (4GB/s) link - and not an expected four lane DMI 4.0 (8GB/s) link.

    Has anyone done any board level analysis to determine if the extra traces already exist between the socket and PCH on Z490 motherboards? If not, this is a pretty solid indication that we'll see another chipset revision land alongside Rocket Lake to be able to address the extra functionality, even if the CPUs are still compatible with some existing boards.

    It would make Z490 boards sort of a B550 equivalent. Gen4 to the CPU connected lanes, and one dedicated NVMe M.2 slot (depending on model). For full functionality you'd need a Z590 (similar to X570's full Gen4 connectivity).

  • Slash3 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

  • Slash3 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    *Nevermind, misread my own comment. I gotta quit drinking. Or start.
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Comet Point-H, despite being nothing more than a warmed over stepping of Cannon Point-H, can in fact support DMI x8. Although it was removed in later revisions, the ballout diagram in the CNP-H datasheet used to show connections for DMI x8. In other words, DMI x8 has been sitting there unused in Intel chipsets since April 2018 because they have yet to produce a CPU that can take advantage of it. Neither CNP or CMP support PCIe Gen4, which is why Intel went with DMI 3.0 x8 instead of DMI 4.0 x4.

    Comet Point-V, which is just a rebranding of the 22nm Kaby Point-H, only has DMI x4.

    Motherboard support will vary by manufacturer and model, but visual inspection should be sufficient to confirm whether the traces are present or not.

    If there is a 500 series PCH for Rocket Lake, it would likely be based on Tiger Point-H. But if Tiger Point-LP is any indication, it still wouldn't support PCIe Gen4. So Rocket Lake would only have the x16 PEG lanes plus the additional x4 from the CPU for PCIe Gen4.
  • Quantumz0d - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    DMI is still at 3.0 from the leaked Z5xx design block diagrams. So that 4.0 Chipset is not there ? If that's the case and they are only trying to get more lanes because to maintain parity with X570 AMD chipset, but if AMD's Zen 3 achieves 5GHz clocks and improved IPC then Intel is toast, add X670 chipset refresh with ASMedia without fan this time instead of re-purposing the I/O die with more lanes or any improvements over X570 then Intel's gaming leadership and OCing for the past decade+ will come to an end.
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    I think part of it is that Intel has been outsourcing production of their chipsets of late. Moving them to PCIe 4.0 while leveraging a 3rd party's older process node would tip the power budget too much.

    Post Rocket Lake is where I see Intel moving DMI to PCIe 4.0 link rates. If they were wise, they'd prep for PCIe 5.0 at the same time. Remember that PCIe 4.0 adopting has been lacking as Intel's initial plans for adoption have been hindered with the rest of their processor roadmap. The 10 nm delays set them back in more than one way.
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Where are you getting that idea from? Intel still fabs all their own chipsets AFAIK. CMP-H is on intel 14nm and CMP-V is on good ol' Intel 22nm.

    They're still on PCIe Gen 3 because they're still selling the essentially the same chipsets they designed for release in 2016 alongside Cannon Lake / Kaby Lake for crying out loud! PCIe Gen5 for client PCs is an extremely dubious proposition in the near term. Might as well add 24G SAS while you're at it.
  • eek2121 - Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - link

    Intel fabs their own chipsets. AMD does not.

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