What We Know About Intel 11th Gen Desktop CPUs

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Image: Intel.

Intel has announced that its 11th generation desktop processors, codenamed Rocket Lake, will be released sometime in the first quarter of 2021. But unlike the 10th generation, this new generation will feature support for PCIe 4.0. They haven’t provided much more information beyond that, although Intel said it would reveal more in the coming months.

The current release window will mark just one year since Intel released its 10th generation desktop processors (Comet Lake) along with a new motherboard chipset and socket. If you updated last year … oh, I’m so sorry. But at least those motherboards will not only support the upcoming Rocket Lake processors, they are already equipped with PCIe 4.0 support. Intel had trouble getting its 400 series chipset to work with PCIe 4.0, so it was a Comet Lake related issue rather than the motherboard.

Additionally, Intel is likely to release a new chip with its next-gen desktop processors, which will also mean more new motherboards. (But, as I already mentioned, 400 series motherboards will work with Rocket Lake. All they will need is a software update.) The Z590, H570, B560, and H510 chips are rumored to arrive on the same date next year.

There are also some questions left about the architecture that Rocket Lake will be based on. Intel has been holding on to its 14nm process node for several years, largely due to its problems with the transition to the 10nm process. Its 11th generation mobile processor, Tiger Lake, is based on the 10nm process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Rocket Lake is too. Rumors suggest that it is based on the same 10nm process, but carried over to the 14nm process. If true, that could be an interesting way to make these upcoming CPUs better than the 10th gen. Intel may get limited results from its 14nm design by now, and we saw it reaching Its limits with high-end CPUs when we reviewed them in June 2020.

Rocket Lake could also be based on the chiplet design of its 11th generation mobile processors, which means it could have multiple arrays and layers of electronic components packed into a single chip package. If that’s the case, then some 11th gen desktop processors may also come with the new ones. Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics. All that is left to speculate is how fast these new desktop CPUs will be. Hopefully we will get all the data before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, AMD is expected to reveal more details about its next generation of desktop processors, the Ryzen 4000 series, which will be based on its Zen 3 architecture. Zen 2, on which the 3000 series CPUs are based, laid down the foundations for an incredible generation of processors, but Zen 3 is expected to do much, much more.

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