The next couple of years are going to be quite decisive in the CPU market, as both Intel and AMD. For the former, it’ll be a battle for process leadership and we’ll finally see how the IDM 2.0 strategy works as promised. AMD, on the other hand, will face the product line it was originally supposed to with its 2nd or 3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs: Intel’s 10nm Alder Lake CPUs with the Alder Lake core architecture:
Intel’s plans are relatively straightforward in the client segment: 10nm Alder Lake across the board in late 2021 and early 2022, first in the form of the LGA1700 desktop chips and later the low-power P, U, and H mobile lineups. You’re looking at Intel’s 10nm Enhanced SuperFin node paired with the Golden Cove and Grace Mont cores. The former is supposed to be 20-25% faster than Sunny/Willow Cove while the latter is more or less on par with Skylake, albeit without hyperthreading and lower clocks. The core configuration of the Alder Lake-S (LGA1700) desktop family:
- Core i9: 8 GC + 8GM cores
- Core i7/Core i5: 6-8 GC + 0-8GM
- Core i3: 4-6GC + 0GM (no low-power cores)
- The mobile segment will get a total of seven product stacks:
The 5-7W M5 range (for tabs and convertibles) will include just two models, with one Golden Cove core and four Grace Mont cores, and a 64/ 48 EU iGPU. The 9-15W U9 stack features up to two HP cores and eight LP cores, and up to 96 EU iGPUs. Further up, we’ve got the U15 and U28 lineups. These are essentially the equivalent of the U series mobile processors we’re used to seeing. The former will have a TDP of 15W while the latter will have a stock power draw of up to 28W, similar to Tiger Lake-U. Then, we have the H45 lineup with a thermal design target of 45W. These are the standard H-series gaming CPUs which are essentially the same as U28 in everything except the clocks and the TDP. Lastly, there’s the H55 series which includes the ultra-high-end SKUs, the successors to the Core i9-10980HK, and the 11980HK
AMD has a more interesting roadmap. Firstly, we’ve got the Cezanne AM4 lineup including the Ryzen 3 5300G, 5600G, and 5700G aimed at a mid to late 2021 launch. At the end of the year, we’ll see the first Zen 3 refresh in the form of Warhol, leveraging an enhanced version of the N7 (7nm) node dubbed as the 6nm process. The ultra low-power 7nm Van Gogh SKUs paired with RDNA 2-based integrated graphics are also expected around the same time.
In the first half of 2022, you can look forward to Rembrandt which is a Cezanne refresh with RDNA 2 graphics instead of Vega 8, and a refined version of the 7nm node. Barcelo, the successor to Lucienne with Zen 3 and Vega 8 graphics and the same old N7 node is expected in the same time frame (Q1-Q3 2022).
Finally, we have got the much-coveted Zen 4 based client range, codenamed Raphael bringing TSMC’s 5nm EUV to the PC space along with an RDNA 2 graphics chipset and DDR5/PCIe 5 standards. These processors are expected towards the end of 2022. Dragon Crest which is the successor to Van Gogh in the 9-15W mobile segment (essentially a refresh) should land in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2022. AMD is expected to bring the Zen 4 core to the mobile platform in the first quarter of 2023 (likely around CES 2023) along with the 5nm node.
All in all, it looks like end of this year is going to be full of new launches, followed by some relatively stagnant quarters. The end of 2022 will once again be a time of leaks and reviews with next-gen products from both AMD and Intel. Although AMD has the high ground for the time being, I expect Intel to hit back with Alder Lake and the competition heating up with Warhol (Zen 3 refresh) and then Raphael (Zen 4).