Intel’s hotly anticipated Alder Lake launch could be right around the corner, and early processor samples are starting to show their power. A qualification sample of the flagship Core i9-12900K can reportedly hit speeds of up to 5.3GHz, and using leaked benchmarks from earlier processor versions, users have calculated that the processor could outperform AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X.
Twitter user @9550pro uncovered a post on the NGA.cn forums that details the specs of Intel’s upcoming processor. Someone claiming to have access to a qualification sample says the processor can hit speeds of up to 5.3GHz. Unlike an engineering sample, qualification sample processors usually come with the specs the final processor will use, though Intel is likely still tweaking the final version.
12th-Gen Intel Core Processors, code-named Alder Lake, are set to release this fall. (Credit: Intel Corporation)
Although we don’t have any firm benchmarks, the user was able to calculate a performance estimate based on the speed of the processor and earlier engineering samples. According to the post, the i9-12900K should hit a multi-core score of around 11,300 in Cinebench R20, which is around 900 points higher than the Ryzen 9 5950X.
It’s important to remember this is an estimate based on a rumored benchmark of an earlier engineering sample. The i9-12900K could perform better or worse than the estimate when it finally launches. However, there’s still reason to believe that the upcoming chip will put Intel back on the map.
Alder Lake processors will reportedly use a big.LITTLE core design, with several high-performance cores mixed in with several high-efficiency cores. This same design is used in countless mobile chips, as well as Apple’s M1 processor. The high-performance Golden Cove cores perform intensive tasks, while the high-efficiency Gracemont cores handle light tasks in the background. Together, they can deliver up to a 20% improvement in single-threaded performance, according to a leaked Intel slide.
Rumors suggest the recently announced Windows 11 will be able to take advantage of this design. Intel Lakefield CPUs, which also use a hybrid architecture, have seen a performance boost of up 5.8% on early builds of Windows 11, which could have implications for Alder Lake when it launches.
The Intel Core i9-12900K will reportedly feature eight Golden Cove and eight Gracemont cores, with hyperthreading available on the Golden Cove cores. That brings the count to 16 cores and 24 threads. Rumors suggest the first wave of Alder Lake processors will launch this fall, but Intel hasn’t announced anything yet.
Although a good sign for Alder Lake, a lot of this is still speculation based on rumors and disparate leaks. Even assuming the leaker has access to a qualification sample, Intel could modify the design in a way that completely changes performance before launch — for better or worse.