Intel Post-Core ‘Royal Core’ Era Rumors: Lunar Lake To Bring 30% IPC Improvement Over Meteor Lake With Lion Cove Cores, Tackling AMD Zen 5 Core in 2024

In the second part to his leak, Moore's Law is Dead has pointed out Intel's future 'Royal Core' era which will start with Lunar Lake & further extend to Nova Lake by 2025.

Intel Royal Core Era Rumors: Lunar Lake & Nova Lake To Offer Disruptive Architectures Against AMD's Zen 5, Doubling of IPC Expected

In the previous leak, we learned the codenames and expected performance targets of Intel's next-gen core families. Three post-Meteor Lake lineups codenamed Arrow Lake, Lunar Lake, and Nova Lake were the centers of attention of that leak but the leaker didn't elaborate much on the next-gen parts except highlighting their expected process nodes and launch timeframes. MLID expands on that and adds a few interesting details that he has learned from his sources.

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For starters, MLID is stating that Alder Lake to Meteor Lake is Intel getting warmed up for its end game and that's to offer a perfected tile-chiplet design that would either use a 2.5D or 3D stacking architecture. This isn't just Intel's goal but it was the vision set by Jim Keller who helped Intel design these next-gen core architectures. In fact, the post-Meteor Lake lineup would be unlike anything Intel has done before and according to MLID, Jim Keller has internally referred to the architecture as 'Royal Core' which makes it sound like a step beyond the traditional core architecture that has been for over a decade.

Intel Royal Core Project For Next-Gen Lion Cove & Panther Cove Architecture (Image Source: MLID):

Intel Post-Core ‘Royal Core’ Era Rumors: Lunar Lake To Bring 30% IPC Improvement Over Meteor Lake With Lion Cove Cores, Tackling AMD Zen 5 Core in 2024

The first of the 'Royal Core' would be the Lion Cove architecture which is expected to debut with the 15th Gen Arrow Lake family and perfect on the 16th Gen Lunar Lake family. This Royal Core design will further be improved with the 17th Gen Nova Lake family. A common thing that MLID, AdoredTV, and the leaker of the codenames have stated is that the perfected Lion Cove design in Lunar Lake is what's going to give Intel its first win over Apple's next-gen ARM architecture in the foreseeable future. Compared to Golden Cove, Lion Cove will bring at least 30% IPC jump so that's probably what we are going to get with Arrow Lake, another 5-10% jump with Lunar Lake & further extended with Panther Cove cores for Nova Lake.

It is not explicitly stated which generation but by 2026, Intel is also expected to adopt SMT4 for its mainstream CPUs, up to DDR5-7400 Mbps memory support, integrated machine learning cores & more by 2026. The timeline matches with Nova Lake so that's definitely when we are going to see the major changes happen. As for SMT4, MLID states not to hold your bets as this isn't confirmed 100%, yet.

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Intel 15th Gen Arrow Lake 'Intel 4' CPUs

Now let's get started with the new Arrow Lake line of chips. This is a name we haven't heard of before and from the looks of it, this will be the architectural update on the Intel 4 process node. Intel's Arrow Lake CPUs are said to feature an updated compute tile with Lion Cove & Skymont cores in up to 40 core configurations (8 Big + 32 Small cores). High-End enthusiast products for Arrow Lake are mentioned but it's referring to the 'K' series mainstream parts, not actual HEDT chips. The performance is said to achieve parity with AMD and Apple processors which would mean that these would offer a double-digit gain.

Intel 16th Gen Lunar Lake 'Intel 3' CPUs

The 16th Gen Lunar Lake chips may end up being the first CPUs on the Intel 3 process node. The new chips are said to bring a performance that would be able to surpass the competing AMD and Apple processors. Now we have heard of Lunar Lake in leaked documents before and it is stated to be a Meteor Lake successor but since the rumor claims that Arrow Lake will be coming before, we shouldn't expect the launch of Lunar Lake CPUs till late 2024 or early 2025.

Intel 17th Gen Nova Lake 'Intel 3' CPUs

Last up, we have the Nova Lake CPUs which would bring forth brand new architectures known as Panther Cove and Darkmont to the table. The lineup is rumored to be the biggest architectural up lift in Intel's history, even bigger than the Core architecture itself which was introduced all the way back in 2006. The CPU performance improvement is rumored to be more than 50% over the Lunar Lake chips so we are talking Zen 1 levels of IPC improvements. However, don't expect these chips to launch till the end of 2025 or even move to 2026 at the earliest.

The main concern right now is also whether Intel's Hybrid architecture approach would playoff for them. A crucial element to this was announced by Intel during its Architecture Day 2021 & is known as 'Thread Director'. It is a hardware-based scheduler that finally has visibility into the type of threads being scheduled.

The technology would first be available in Alder Lake CPUs where it will work with Windows 11 to prioritize tasks to the various cores based on their nature. For the first time, a hardware scheduler can send background tasks to the small cores and performance-requiring tasks to the performance cores. If Intel's hybrid approach bet pays off, then we can expect multi-threaded scaling like never before on Intel CPUs. Do note that AMD is also keen on investing in hybrid approaches for its next-gen Ryzen APUs.

Intel Mainstream Desktop CPU Generations Comparison:

Intel CPU FamilyProcessor ProcessProcessors Cores/Threads (Max)TDPsPlatform ChipsetPlatformMemory SupportPCIe SupportLaunch
Sandy Bridge (2nd Gen)32nm4/835-95W6-SeriesLGA 1155DDR3PCIe Gen 2.02011
Ivy Bridge (3rd Gen)22nm4/835-77W7-SeriesLGA 1155DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02012
Haswell (4th Gen)22nm4/835-84W8-SeriesLGA 1150DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02013-2014
Broadwell (5th Gen)14nm4/865-65W9-SeriesLGA 1150DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02015
Skylake (6th Gen)14nm4/835-91W100-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02015
Kaby Lake (7th Gen)14nm4/835-91W200-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02017
Coffee Lake (8th Gen)14nm6/1235-95W300-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02017
Coffee Lake (9th Gen)14nm8/1635-95W300-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02018
Comet Lake (10th Gen)14nm10/2035-125W400-SeriesLGA 1200DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02020
Rocket Lake (11th Gen)14nm8/1635-125W500-SeriesLGA 1200DDR4PCIe Gen 4.02021
Alder Lake (12th Gen)Intel 716/2435-125W600 SeriesLGA 1700DDR5 / DDR4PCIe Gen 5.02021
Raptor Lake (13th Gen)Intel 724/3235-125W700-SeriesLGA 1700DDR5 / DDR4PCIe Gen 5.02022
Meteor Lake (14th Gen)Intel 4TBA35-125W800 Series?TBADDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2023
Arrow Lake (15th Gen)Intel 20A40/48TBA900-Series?TBADDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2024
Lunar Lake (16th Gen)Intel 18ATBATBA1000-Series?TBADDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2025
Nova Lake (17th Gen)Intel 18ATBATBA2000-Series?TBADDR5?PCIe Gen 6.0?2026
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