Intel is about to launch its 13th generation Raptor Lake CPUs. These chips are an evolution of its Alder Lake architecture, with more efficient cores, higher clocks and other mild upgrades—a “sour” refinement of a technology we’ve seen in previous years. As the company prepares to launch, it has begun training its sales staff with new talking points for Raptor Lake. This obviously involves a lot of PowerPoint, including conference calls with the global sales team. The folks at Igor’s Labs have taken over Intel’s sales deck, giving us a look at its “go to market” strategy for Raptor Lake. Overall there’s nothing too surprising here, but it does show us what Intel considers the defining features of the new platform.
The company confirms that it’s launching with six CPUs: Core i9-13900, i7-13700, and i5-13600. All six CPUs will be offered in both K and KF variants, K unlocked and KF unlocked and without an integrated GPU. We also see significant differences here, as only the flagship CPU has a thermal velocity boost of up to 5.8GHz. This will allow a single core to reach those clocks if there is enough thermal and voltage headroom. Additionally, we can see that only the i9 and i7 SKUs offer Turbo Boost Max 3.0. This allows two cores to be boosted to certain clocks, if there is enough power and cooling.
This feature does not appear on Core i5 models, although they can be boosted to 5.1GHz for performance cores. That’s a 200MHz boost over the Alder Lake variant. The Core i9 gets a 500MHz boost clock, uh, boost, and the Core i7 gets a 400MHz maximum clock increase. The chart below confirms a maximum TDP of 253W for the Core i9 and i7 variants. This will go up against AMD’s 170W Ryzen 9 7950X and 7900X CPUs with a maximum of 230W. Intel is rumored to offer an “Extreme Performance” mode on some Z790 boards that will lift this limitation, allowing up to 350W of juice.
Overall Raptor Lake’s banner features, according to slides obtained by Igor Labs, include more efficient cores, faster memory support, better motherboard compatibility from AMD, more cache and faster performance cores. Start at the top, simplify the more core stuff; This adds eight more efficient cores to the i9 CPU, for a total of 16. This will allow Intel’s first 32-thread CPU in the Core i9-13900K as the performance cores are hyper-threaded. Finally, it will be able to compete thread-to-thread with AMD’s Zen 4.
As far as memory goes, Raptor Lake will support DDR5 5600 MT/s, compared to Alder Lake’s maximum of 4800 MT/s. It will also support DDR4 for budget-friendly builds, which is a big selling point over the DDR5-only Zen 4. It’s unclear what AMD’s goal is as far as memory speed goes but 6000 MT/s has already been discussed as sweet spot either way, “better compatibility” than AMD is a valid point here. The same goes for its motherboard support, as it will work with older 600 series motherboards. This is not the case with the Zen 4, which requires the purchase of an entirely new motherboard with new memory.
On the cache front, Intel is taking a page from AMD’s playbook. This increases both L2 and L3 cache for Raptor Lake. For L2, it used 1.25MB per performance core on Alder Lake. This is increased to 2MB per core, up to a total of 32MB. This doubles the efficiency of L2 cores from 2MB to 4MB per core, and is shared between four core clusters. L3 shared memory increased from 30MB to a total of 36MB
The new performance cores are called Raptor Cove, as opposed to Alder Lake’s Golden Cove core. They are built on a refined Intel 7 process, which allows for higher clocks. The skill cores known as Gracemont are unchanged, but there are more of them.
Intel’s only notable change is more PCIe 4.0 lanes than Alder Lake, going from 12 to 20. At the same time, it reduces the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes from 16 to eight. PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 lanes on the CPU are unchanged at four and 16 respectively. The Z790 chipset will offer an additional USB 3.2 lane, making it five versus four on the Z690.
All in all, a mild upgrade, as expected. However, this might be what Intel needed to do before going with its “discrete” architecture with Meteor Lake. Raptor Lake was always a stop-gap before Intel took a giant step forward with its first tile-based processors. Despite its evolutionary design, leaked benchmarks showed it made impressive gains over Alder Lake. How it will fare against an all-new AMD architecture remains to be seen.
AMD is launching Zen 4 on September 27. Intel is rumored to launch around the same time, as it looks to steal AMD’s thunder.