Intel is working on updating its 86 microarchitecture with Rocket Lake, and a few weeks ago it announced that the Rocket Lake Lineup will launch in 2021. Sources from Wccftech say that the lineup will launch in March 2021 and will also feature backward compatibility with Z490.
The reason for backward compatibility is the fact the RKL-S will support PCIe 4.0. It is unclear whether the motherboard manufacturers will roll out partial support for PCIe 4.0 on older motherboards which is possible as the majority of high-end motherboards already partially support the specifications.
We can expect better performance from the RKL-S lineup as it will be the first major architectural overhaul since Sandy Bridge even though it will still be based on Intel’s 14nm process. Moreover, we can also expect the lineup to stay for a short period as Intel is trying to speed up 10nm SuperFin(a refined version of the 10nm process on which Tiger Lake was built)
The reason why Intel might be deliberately slowing the transition to the 10nm process is the fact they are major suppliers (almost 80%) of the x86 hence they lack the capacity to fulfill the orders for 10nm chips so it is better for the company to stick with 14nm until it increases its 10nm production capacity. The Intel Fab 42 is also in action which means that Intel might compete with TSMC in 2021.
As for the technical specification, the Rocket Lake series will feature eight cores and an increased (50%) integrated graphics power. Just like the previous generations, RKL-S will also be based on the 14nm process, but it will feature a revamped architecture based on the Sunny Cove (Ice Lake) architecture called Cypress Cove. It is essentially a backport of 10nm (non-SuperFin) to 14nm. It will also feature PCIe 4.0 support and Xe 12 generation graphics.
As it is based on a 14nm process, the leaked benchmarks indicate that it will be able to boost up to 5.0Ghz, which is pretty common for a processor with this level of development making it perfect for both personal and commercial uses.
Rocket Lake S will be the first processor to feature 20 CPU based PCIe 4.0. Moreover, it will feature Deep Learning Boost and VNNI support, which should give a significant speedup to AI-related workflows. The line up will also feature USB 3.2 2×2 standard to provide fast USB speeds. It will feature Intel XE graphics which is capable of providing 4k resolution to up to 3 monitors. The XE graphics will support high-end decoders like
4:4:4 HEVC and VP9. The integrated memory will be able to support memory speeds of up to 3200Mhz without any overclocking.
The RKL-S will be the first major new architecture after a long time hence many people are excited. Unfortunately, we can’t expect the 25%+ IPC as it is based on Cypress Cove instead of Willow Cove. The processor will provide increased performance at the same TDP due to its 5.0Ghz boost clock and new architecture.