Intel’s Alder Lake processors bring with them a lot of new technologies, but the most notable is the use of a hybrid core architecture, otherwise known as big.LITTLE in the Arm/smartphone space. The use of low power efficiency cores codenamed “Gracemont” allows Intel to catch up with AMD’s Ryzen processors without sacrificing die space and power. According to rough estimates, Gracemont is on par with the Skylake core in terms of performance while being much more efficient. Some additional testing conducted by TechPowerUp gives us a better idea of how the big and little Alder Lake cores stack up compared to each other.
In gaming workloads, the efficiency cores are 47% slower than performance cores, with hyperthreading disabled on the latter. It’s important to note that Monts don’t feature hyperthreading (SMT) and as such, are a fair bit slower than Coves in compute-intensive (and not cache sensitive). With both the core clusters enabled, the Core i9-12900K is 58.5% faster than the Gracemont cluster and 11.5% faster than the Golden Cove cluster. (Provigil)
Across single and multi-threaded applications, the Golden Cove cores are once again a bit over 50% faster than the Gracemont cores. The delta should expand to around 60-65% in heavily multi-threaded workloads like Cinebench and Blender. With both clusters enabled, the Core i9-12900K is 222.6% faster than the Gracemont core cluster and 70% faster than the Golden Cove cluster. This just shows how most modern games fail to utilize more than 8 cores.
In terms of efficiency, surprisingly, there’s not much difference between the power consumption of the two cores. While the E-cores draw 123W, the P-cores consume 156W. It’s worth noting that these figures are with both the cores capped at 3.9GHz. The Golden Coves will draw a fair bit more power with the stock boost clocks, and HT enabled. A stock Core i9-12900K with both core clusters enabled draws a rather considerable 350W of power under full load.