Intel appears to have gone a bit overboard with Alder Lake, not only in terms of performance but also the power draw. As per data unearthed by our German friend Igor, the BIOSes of the upcoming Z690 motherboards have set the PL1 values equal to PL2, making the latter rather redundant. This essentially means that the stock power consumption of the Alder Lake chips will be twice as much as their predecessors. While Intel doesn’t enforce the PL2 and Tau values across various AIC boards, the PL1 is usually untouched.
For a better understanding of how PL1 and PL2 differ from each other, have a look at the above illustration. Alternatively, you can go through our explainer on PL1, PL2, and Tau for a simpler breakdown of the various terms. Setting the PL1 equal to PL2 is problematic for more than one reason. Firstly, it skews the performance benchmarks as you’re essentially comparing two products with very different power draws and efficiencies.
Second and more obvious, it destroys power efficiency. Chances are that this will be marketed as a gaming BIOS of sorts, encouraging reviewers to use them for benchmarking various titles which once again, is highly unethical. With Rocket Lake-S, one could already set PL1 equal to PL2 from the BIOS settings, but it wasn’t enabled by default.
On the bright side, Intel is making sure that board partners pair the Z690 motherboards with capable voltage regulators to avoid any “mishaps”. You can read these below:
Validate Electrical and Thermal Capabilities
It is recommended that system integrators verify with PL1=PL2 settings and the specifications listed have no adverse thermal impact to VR or CPU take place. This can be done by running:
• Five consecutive iterations of CineBench20 (MT). 5-10 seconds between runs.
• Verify Scores are within (+/- ) 2% distribution.
• No VR Thermal events.
SoC Heatsink Thermal Capabilities
• The performance requirement of the thermal solution at end-of-life should be 0.07°C/Watt
• System condition assumptions for these requirements are as follows:
• TjMax = 100˚C
• Local Ambient= 30˚C
• Alder Lake S 8+8+1 125 W SoC
VR Thermal Additional Recommendations
• For designs with 8-phase VR, which configure PL1=PL2, passive heat sinks are recommended on VR components to avoid VRHOT# assertion.
• Additionally, Intel recommends board manufacturers conduct VR component thermal tests, under loading conditions above to assess the need for passive cooling on their specific topologies.
- IA Iccmax (A) 280
- IA IPL2 (A) 184
- IA ∆i (A) 208
- IA ∆t (ns) 200
- IA DC/AC LL (mΩ) 1.1
- GT Iccmax (A) 30
- GT IPL2 (A) 22
- GT ∆i (A) 21
- GT ∆t (ns) 250
- GT DC/AC LL (mΩ) 4.0
- AUX Iccmax (A) 28.5
- AUX DC LL (mΩ) 2.0
- PL1 (W) 241
- PL2 (W) 241
- PL4 (W) 359
Source: Igor’s Lab