Intel Next-Gen Comet lake CPUs Unable To Support PCIe 4.0 And Will Run Half Speed At PCIe 3.0?

Intel’s troubles with transitioning to the next evolutionary step in CPU transistor size reduction could just be one of the many challenges the company is dealing with. According to multiple reports, Intel is facing trouble moving on to and adopting the next-generation PCI Express Lane or PCIe 4.0. It appears Intel’s upcoming Comet Lake-based CPUs will run at PCIe 3.0 speeds. If the reports are accurate, this aspect will be a severe blow to Intel and to the prospective buyers.

The 10nm Fabrication node for Intel might support only PCIe 3.0 standards. The standard is pretty old and has been overtaken by the newer PCIe 4.0 standard. In fact, AMD has not only successfully transitioned all its CPUs and GPUs on the 7nm Fabrication Process, but it has also even adopted the PCIe 4.0 signaling rates. With Intel not only having problems with 10nm but also abandoning the PCIe 4.0 standards, the choice for CPU buyers is becoming ever clearer.

Intel’s Challenges Moving Onto The 10nm Manufacturing Process Hampering Adoption Of Newer Standards And technologies?

It is no secret that Intel has faced several hurdles while moving on to the next size reduction phase in CPU manufacturing. Intel has been riding on the 14nm Fabrication Process for a long time. However, the company hasn’t been able to successfully migrate to the 10nm Manufacturing Process for quite some time. Intel even approached Samsung to manufacture its chips. The company even considered ditching the 10nm Fabrication Node and moving directly to the 7nm process. However, those plans haven’t materialized as well.

Quite recently, specifications and features of a few upcoming Intel CPUs leaked online. Based on the alleged information, it appears Intel is merely adding cores to the new and as yet unannounced processors. While this method does offer some performance gains, they fall short of boosting the speed of each individual core. New reports now strongly indicate such techniques might be hurting Intel. It appears Intel’s difficulty evolving to the 10nm manufacturing process has not only stalled its ability to move to newer architectures, but it has also led to slower transitions to other new technologies. The biggest victim is the adoption of the PCIe 4.0 standard.

It was commonly believed that Intel would adopt and support PCIe 4.0 when it transitions to a new microarchitecture. Interestingly, assuming Intel Comet Lake CPUs supporting PCIe 4.0, motherboard manufacturers supporting the Socket 1200 included the necessary componentry, like ReDrivers and external clock generators, to enable the feature. However, now it appears that Intel CPUs, even those based on Comet Lake microarchitecture, might not support PCIe 4.0.

Motherboard Vendors Face Tough Choice About Supporting Intel’s Socket 1200 Comet Lake CPUs:

Incidentally, motherboard manufacturers are still hopeful that Intel CPUs will soon come with PCIe 4.0 support. The PCIe 4.0-enabling components could come in handy when users slot in the next-gen Rocket Lake processors. However, Intel is not exactly known to allow full backward compatibility with previous-gen chipsets. Given the uncertainty, motherboard vendors might just remove the expensive components before the design and fabrication of Socket 1200 motherboards are finalized.

Intel Comet Lake CPUs could pack as many as 10 Cores. Although the Core count has risen, so have many undesired aspects. Intel increased the recommended ‘Tau’ duration (the amount of time the chip spends in PL2 boost states) from 28 seconds to 56 seconds. These chips also run hotter and consume a lot more power. The upcoming Intel Comet Lake CPUs have a Power Level 1 rating of 127W, and Power Level 2 rating of 250W. Needless to add, these CPUs will demand a mightier power supply and powerful cooling system support.

With Intel’s support and adoption of PCIe 4.0 delayed and uncertain, many ancillary industries could face problems. Most notable mentions include the next-gen SSDs and Graphics Cards that come with the faster PCIe 4.0. Incidentally, PCIe 4.0 is twice as fast as PCIe 3.0.

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.