Intel's Rocket Lake S CPUs are up to 19 percent faster than last year

The top-end Core i9-11900K has fewer cores, but more overall speed.

Nigel Treblin / reuters

We’ve known since October that Intel’s upcoming Rocket Lake S desktop CPUs will only support up to 8-core chips, down from last year’s 10-core i9-10900K. The real question is if that step back will be worth it. Well, Intel is now claiming the new Rocket Lake S chips are up to 19 percent faster than their predecessors. Gamers care more about single-threaded performance and overall speeds, after all, so losing two CPU cores may be worth it for higher FPS results.

While we’re still waiting for more details on Rocket Lake S hardware, Intel gave us a few more tidbits at CES. They should deliver up to 50 percent better integrated graphics performance, and they’ll feature AI integration with Intel’s Deep Learning Boost tech. The flagship Core i9-11900K will reach up to 5.3GHz like last year, and it’ll support faster DDR4-3200 RAM. Rocket Lake S chips will support PCIe 4.0, and they’ll be backwards compatible with Intel’s existing 400 series chipsets, as well as the upcoming 500 series motherboards.

Looking ahead, Intel says that its upcoming hybrid “Alder Lake” chips will arrive in the second half of this year. They’ll be the company’s first performance-focused hybrid chips, which combine fast cores with high efficiency cores on a single module. Intel has already released its Lakefield hybrid chips for thin and light notebooks and convertibles, but the company expects Alder Lake to deliver much more power. It’ll also be built on a refined version of its 10-nanometer architecture, which alone should lead to significant speed and efficiency gains.