Aside from the bump in version number, Intel 12th Gen Core chips mark the company’s switch to a hybrid design. Intel is calling this shift its “Biggest Architectural Shift in a Decade.” Instead of having multiple cores with the same clock speed and performance, the new Intel chips are equipped with a combination of P-cores (Performance cores) and E-cores (Efficient cores). The new architecture is similar to what Apple’s M-series chips have — the ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture.
The new chips work in the same way as the modern-day smartphones. P-cores perform the heavy-duty tasks whereas the E-cores perform low-level tasks, such as playing music or displaying an offline video. The number of P-cores and the E-cores is different across all the models. The 16-core i9-12900K has 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, whereas the 10-core i5-12600K has 6 P-cores and 4 E-cores. One thing to note here is that only P-cores support multi-threading and not E-cores.
Moreover, since the cores are now split into two versions, Intel is specifying base, boost, and max clock speeds for the P-cores and the E-Cores. The Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K has a 3.2GHz base clock speed, 5.1GHz boost clock speed, and a 5.2GHz max clock speed for the P-cores. For the E-cores of Core i9-12900K, Intel says it is clocked at 2.4GHz base clock speed and 3.9GHz boost clock speed.
Intel is also specifying a big boost in other CPU specifications. The new models are equipped with large with cache size. To be specific, the i9 model has a 30MB L3 cache, i7 has a 25MB, and the i5 has a 20MB cache. They support DDR5 RAM and boast speeds of 4800 MT/s. The CPUs support PCIe 5.0 as well.
Even on the GPU side, Intel says its integrated GPU is now ~20% faster breaching the gap it has with the latest RTX GPUs from NVIDIA. Coupled with DDR5 RAM, Intel says 12th Gen Core processors are able to perform 36% faster photo editing, up to 32% faster video editing, up to 37% faster 3D modeling, and up to 100% faster multi-frame rendering performance.
The new processors are available for pre-order starting today. The shipping will start on November 4. The base model i5-12600KF (without integrated GPU) has been priced at $264. The top-tier i9 12900K has been priced at $589. For those looking for a laptop with Intel 12th Gen Core CPUs, they’ll have to wait for some time. Traditionally, companies announce their new laptops with new Intel chipsets in the January-February window with availability beginning Spring. So, you can expect new laptops with Intel 12th Gen Core processors from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and others, next year.