Intel's Alder Lake Combines 'Performance' and 'Efficiency' CPU Cores on One Chip

From PC Mag: When Intel’s next-generation "Alder Lake" processors launch later this year, don't expect every CPU core onboard to be the same.

To squeeze out even more performance, the company is adopting a hybrid CPU architecture for Alder Lake that’ll leverage two different x86 CPU cores: one focused on performance, the other devoted to efficiency.

The combination of “Performance Cores” and “Efficiency Cores” promises to create the most powerful and efficient Intel processors to date, the company said during a briefing this week as part of its Intel Architecture Day event.

The approach may sound a lot like ARM’s own “big.LITTLE” architecture. A decade ago, ARM began packing high-clock-speed, but power-hungry, CPU cores alongside lower-power, but slower, CPU cores. The combination has paved the way for processors that promise both high performance and long battery life, which is a major need for mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops. Most notably, Apple has adopted the same kind of hybrid architecture for its ARM-based M1 chip, which is powering the newest MacBooks, such as the late-2020 MacBook Air.

However, Intel says don’t confuse its own approach with ARM’s. The company’s hybrid architecture—built using the chip maker’s 10-nanometer process now dubbed “Intel 7”—was designed to first focus on performance, including for desktop PCs.

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