Intel Hybrid Technology (Big and Small cores) coming to Alder Lake?

Published: Jul 13th 2020, 16:00 GMT   Comments

Intel Alder Lake to feature “Hybrid Technology”

Intel recently announced Hybrid Technology with Lakefield processors featuring Foveros stacking technology. These are ultra-low-power processors for compact devices such as Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold. It has been long rumored that similar technology would arrive to the desktop platform with Alder Lake-S architecture.

A core design similar to ARM’s big.LITTLE has been rumored ever since this leak has surfaced in March. According to the picture, Alder Lake-S would feature 8+8 core configuration, where half of the cores are so-called Big Cores and the other would be Small Cores. The processors would thus feature a total of 16 cores.

According to the new leak (scroll down to JZWSVIC answer), Hybrid Technology in Alder Lake architecture would allow both types of cores to share the same instruction set and registers, but the availability of certain instructions would depend on which core is enabled. A screenshot shared by the user (likely from Intel’s internal documents) suggests that AVX-512, TSX-NI, and FP16 will all be disabled when Hybrid Technology is enabled (both Big and Small cores are enabled). The instructions will work only when the technology is disabled (Small cores are disabled). Note, that ‘disabled’ may simply refer to the mode the CPU is currently set to.

While the Big/Small core architecture clearly makes sense for mobile devices (mainly to conserve power), it is yet unclear what is the intention of Hybrid Technology in desktops.

Intel Alder Lake architecture is expected to debut as the 12th Gen Core series (possibly in 2022). Intel will also launch a new socket for the series. The 600-series motherboards would feature LGA1700 socket. Rumors suggest that Intel could support up to 3 generations on this platform. The series is also expected to support DDR5 memory and PCIe 4.0.

Intel Hybrid Technology in Alder Lake, Source: JZWSVIC@Zhihu

INTEL Mainstream CPU Series Specs
VideoCardz.comCoffee Lake-SComet Lake-SRocket Lake-SAlder Lake-SMeteor Lake-S
Launch Year201820202020~2021-2022~2022-2023
Fabrication Node14nm14nm14nm10nm??
MicroarchitectureSkylakeSkylakeWillow Cove (?)Golden Cove + Gracemont?
Max Core Countup to 8 coresup to 10 coresup to 8 coresup to 16 (8 BIG + 8 SMALL)?
Memory SupportDDR4DDR4DDR4DDR5DDR5
PCIe GenPCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0PCIe 4.0PCIe 4.0?
Intel Core Series8th/9th Gen Core-S10th Gen Core-S11th Gen Core-S (?)12th Gen Core-S (?)?
Motherboard ChipsetsIntel 300 (eg. Z390)Intel 400 (eg. Z490)Intel 500 (Z590)Intel 600 (eg. Z690) (?)?

Intel Alder Lake CPU configurations, Source: PTT

Intel Alder Features, Source: Chiphell via RetiredEngineer

Source: Zhihu via @9550pro

Further read: Intel Hybrid Technology Brief (PDF)

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