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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  • Spunjji - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    "Who cares what process node it's fabbed on if it delivers the performance you need for your application in the power budget you have available"

    Well that's the problem - it's unlikely to do that; at least in comparison with competing products. If they manage to clock the cores at a rate that will provide competitive performance then it's unlikely to be at a reasonable power level. This is assuming the cores will need more power than they do on 10SF (~50W for 4 cores at 4.8Ghz boost); if they somehow don't then WOW that node is still bad.

    Cost is also a factor - those chunky Cove cores without the scaling benefits of 10nm are going to result in a fairly large die. They'll surely yield well on 14nm, but a large die is a large die, and they're still competing with their own server products for those wafers. The upshot is that even if they want to, they can't trivially sink a bunch of 14nm wafers into this and eat the cost as they might otherwise be tempted to do.

    There's a reason Intel cared a lot about process node, right up until they couldn't execute. They built their entire organisation around it.
  • azfacea - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    putting what rumors to where ?

    intel's next product will be another 14nm recycle, short on core counts, short on pcie, long on power consumption, long on security holes, short on mobo compatibility, long on price, short on supply. why did they need a new product for this ??
  • yeeeeman - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Unfortunately that is the truth...
    Intel should have scrapped rocket lake and move straight to alder lake, 10nm, pcie 5, ddr5, xe graphics, big little, etc. Instead they are refreshing the refreshes and then when they actually have new hardware (as in rocket lake) they are still making it on 14nm.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    PCIe 5 isnt ready yet, DDR5 is just barely starting production, big.little x86 is unproven, ece.

    But yes Intel should just abaondon their next gen, piss off their SIs and OEMs, and wait for the new tech to be ready. Worked great with 10nm right?
  • JayNor - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    They just opened fab42 for 10nm, but only have 3 10nm fabs for now. They have plenty of 14nm capacity. Rocket Lake will be a desktop chip with avx512, pcie4, 5GHz turbo and a nice core IPC update.

    10nm Tiger Lake-H is rumored to be coming also.
  • Spunjji - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    "They have plenty of 14nm capacity"

    Citation needed on that one - last I knew they were capacity constrained.
  • nandnandnand - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    What do you mean by short on PCIe? Less lanes?

    If the backported Willow Cove improves IPC enough, they might be able to catch up to Zen 3, or get close enough and drop prices to undercut.

    It would be an improvement on Comet Lake, and likely work on the same motherboards. If they don't release Rocket Lake, it's Comet Lake vs. Zen 2/3 for many months which would be a disaster.
  • brucethemoose - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    I'm more interested in the lack of professionalism in this post.

    Careening between topics and throwing out buzzwords? Posting on Medium? The weird font change y'all got?

    I appreciate candidness and all, but this doesn't sound like something that should come from the Intel VP/GM for Desktop/Workstation/Gaming.
  • Spunjji - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    It has 4 claps, too. 😬
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    I can't wait to read about their next big Xe DG2 feature, no doubt posted to Geocities and Tumblr as a sparkle GIF diary entry.

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