Fifty: the number of chips in the Core family of 12th generation Intel presents today – chips for consumer PCs and professional machines (vPRO). Announced last year and touted as ” the largest performance leap of the x86 architecture for ten years “, this 12th gen is a first in the world of PC processors. Because for the first time in the x86 universe – represented by Intel and AMD – a whole range of chips is powered by two different types of CPU cores: Performance Cores (rated P) and Efficiency Cores (rated E).
If this reminds you of anything, it’s normal, it is more or less big.LITTLE type organization that powers the ARM chips found in smartphones and tablets. Small cores with low consumption and strong parallelization to take care of the background tasks or unload the large cores in the event of a “downturn”, and large cores must precisely deploy all their power quickly for the most intensive applications.
And to manage all this, a conductor called “Thread Director” analyzes the needs in real-time and distributes the tasks. Promising especially in the mobile field, this architecture is however complex on paper and we are waiting to see what it will give in practice – and especially what it will give in the face of AMD which criticizes this use of “small” hearts to concentrate. only on “big hearts”.
But before having the first PCs, both stationary and mobile, in our hands, a little bit of the incredible range launched in a single block by Intel.
Range For Stationary PCs: Gaming And Creative Advantage
After launching six rather very high-end references last October, Intel is pulling out the heavy artillery for this CES batch and deploying 22 different chips ranging from the small Celeron G6900T to the Core i9-12900. Who says completely new architecture, says new socket – the location where you plug the processor. As for the six previous references, the LGA 1700 socket imposes, by rebound, new heatsink formats.
In the “box” versions of the processors, consumers will find Intel’s coolers (heat sink + fan) called “Laminar”, the Core i9 version of which will be more efficient and… equipped with RGB LEDs (misery).
The range is made up of two “sub-ranges”: the chips between 46W and 65W cruising (the latter still rising to 202W in charge mode), and the less efficient “T” suffix chips, all set at 35W. To add to the chaos, note that only the most efficient chips (Core i9 and i7) receive low power cores (E-Core) which is quite counter-intuitive: some would have thought that everyone benefits from E -Core and that the difference is made especially on the number of powerful hearts.
Of the 22 chip references for tower PCs, it is important to note that only 4 of them – those which have the suffix “-F” – do not have a graphics part (present, but deactivated at the factory). In the midst of a shortage of graphics cards, this is a very good thing. However, do not expect the same performance as for mobile chips.
Because although the integrated GPU is well based on the Xe-LP graphics chip, mobile chips integrate up to 96 EU (the execution units). But desktop processors are limited to 32 EU (UHD Graphics 770) at best. Not enough to play comfortably in 1080p, but already enough to use an operating system and enjoy comfortable multimedia acceleration. We have become accustomed to reading the specifications of processors by simply multiplying the number of cores by two to obtain the number of threads. There is change with this generation. Not on the entry-level, but from Core i7s, things get more complicated. Because you should know that only high-performance cores (P-Cores, therefore) are able to manage two tasks at the same time (we speak of multithreading).
There is therefore not an automatic relationship between the number of cores and the number of threads. This is why Intel communicates on the number of total physical cores (P + E), then on the number of threads. Thus, the Core i7 12700 displays 12 cores, but “only” 20 threads (tasks). Because the chip is made up of 8 P-Cores (therefore 16 tasks) and 4 E-Cores (4 tasks).
On the performance, side announced, if the manufacturer’s measures should always be taken with a grain of salt (and never satisfactory in terms of chosen comparisons), it should still be noted that the Core i5 12600 is particularly highlighted by Intel. Who compares it several times to an AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, which may seem strange since it belongs, theoretically, to a higher range (AMD aligns its 3-5-7-9 on Intel). However, in Intel’s comparisons, between these two chips equipped with graphics, the Core i5 12600 clearly puts the AMD chip in misery, especially in creation (Lightroom, Premiere, etc.). Once again, we must stay right and wait for the tests, but Intel seems very happy with its batch of chips.
H, P, And U: The Three Mobile Core Ranges 12th Gen
Unlike the desktop platform, no Core 12th gen reference had been launched at the end of 2021: this 2022 batch, therefore, represents the first 28 mobile SoCs available. Here, fewer traps for counting hearts since, mobility requires, the low consumption E-Cores are still in the game – of the 28 references, only 5 are equipped with only 4 E-Cores, the rest working as standard with 8 of these so-called “efficient” hearts.
While Intel sometimes separates the launch of its high-performance (H) chips from its more mobile (P) and ultra-mobile (U) chips, here it is the three families that are presented at once.
For gamers and creatives, we are therefore entitled to the H range, chips that range from Core i5 and Core i9 (no small Core i3 type player in this family!). Chips which are all calibrated at 45W, but which can shoot at the socket, in case of video rendering or intense gaming, up to 115W (beware of heat dissipation). The maximum frequency of P-Core, so dear to gamers, ranges from 4.4 GHz at (Core i5-12450H) to 5 GHz (Core i9-12900HK), which allows Intel to claim the crown of gaming performance (and creation) on mobile compared to the previous generation AMD Ryzen.
For more compact and more traditional laptops, like the Dell XPS 13, the whole generation is cut at 28W, but again, one (or more?) P-Core can go up to 4.8 GHz. Coupled with the Xe graphics card, ranging here from 64 to 96 EU, we can clearly imagine being able to play, on a 13-14 inch laptop PC weighing around 1.3 kilograms, all games at more than 30 fps in 720 -1080p with medium to low detail level. Unimaginable three years ago!
For the thinnest and/or enduring platforms, the range of “U” mobile chips is displayed at only 15W, or even 9W. Interesting detail that will have to be tested: the two high-end 15W references have P-Cores that can be pushed to 4.7 / 4.8 GHz and also include a Xe chip at 96 EU. If the rise in frequency will logically be less sustained over time, we could however start to play or do 4K encoding on machines below a kilogram … if the manufacturers do not restrict the chips too much and if the chassis allow it!
Apple Is No Longer Taboo
In terms of performance comparison, for the first time, Intel included the Apple M1 chips in some confrontations (only with mobile H chips). But there is a “but”: all PCs compared with Macs are equipped with RTX3080 from Nvidia. If the comparison is interesting at a constant price – the rise in power of Apple chips (and incidentally, computers) is expensive – the M1X and M1 Pro should largely retain the advantage of performance per watt. As well as the prize for pure battery power. It remains to be seen the value for money of the machines – and therefore know the OEM price of these new processors.
Unlike Apple, Intel does not sell machines, but processors that manufacturers are responsible for integrating into their PCs. To organize all these beautiful people and ensure that its promises are not flouted by manufacturers willing to cut corners on components, Intel is extending its EVO program. A quality certificate that ensures any machine with such a badge meets standards and has been tested by Intel – battery life guarantees, instant wake-up, Wi-Fi 6, fast charging, etc. Two notable novelties in this certification. First, even the H chips – which are now aligned with the others in terms of fineness of engraving (Intel 7 or 10 nm SuperFin) – are part of the program.
Then the EVO certification 12th generation brings WiFi 6E, network management software tools (priority work and videoconferencing), a webcam minimum in Full HD, the integrated software suppression of background noise video, etc. Often the poor relation of product ads in favor of pure performance, number of cores, power consumption, etc. in the trade press – and here we are just as at fault as the others! – these more discreet improvements are however those which, on a daily basis, can make the difference between a good and an excellent laptop.
Difficult to get an idea of the competitiveness of these chips 12th generation without being able to touch machines well equipped and without having heard announcements from AMD. But one thing is certain: the fact that Intel has succeeded in aligning the design (nature of the cores) and the production (Intel 7) of all its chips shows that its architecture of primordial “bricks” is capable of quite a step up – the chips range from 9W to 125W (therefore from 29W to 241W in turbo mode)! Strongly the confrontation with AMD… and Apple.