Intel‘s upcoming Raptor Lake lineup has been in the news quite a lot lately, from clock speed rumors to an odd lack of next-gen storage support, it seems like the hype machine for 13th Gen Core is at an all-time high. However, Raptor Lake as a whole isn’t a sizable improvement over current-gen Alder Lake, it’s more of an incremental upgrade—refining the things Alder Lake was already good at whilst addressing some of its issues.
The bigger generational uplift will be seen with Meteor Lake (MTL), aka 14th Gen Core series. This will be Intel’s follow-up to Raptor Lake, building upon the hybrid core architecture established by its predecessors. It’s pretty much confirmed at this point that Meteor Lake will be using a tile design with the die containing separate tiles dedicated to the CPU, I/O, and GPU.
Meteor Lake will, therefore, see Intel dabble into unfamiliar territory once again after the big.LITTLE venture as it adopts a MCM design for its mainstream client CPUs for the first time ever.
For those who don’t know, MCM, or Multi-Chip-Module, is a packaging technique that involves putting several different chips on the same silicone. In contrast, Intel has always stuck with traditional monolithic designs where all elements of the processor are integrated into a single silicon chip.
With Meteor Lake, Intel is going one step further and dividing those chips into even smaller pieces, referred to as ‘tiles‘, and purposing them for specific functions. The company is going to use its most-advanced packaging technology, “Foveros“, to achieve this breakthrough.
All in all, three tiles will comprise a Meteor Lake chip: Compute, SoC-LP, and GPU die. As you could tell, the last one houses an iGPU and powers the chip’s internal graphics. But, SoC-LP is actually responsible for all of the I/O and cache on the CPU, while the P-Cores and E-Cores reside inside the Compute tile.
Meteor Lake mobility leaked
While this is exciting on its own, little is known about the actual specs of these chips; the specifics of what each SKU is going to look like; how mobile factors into all of this, and so on. Today, a lot of those questions got answered through a major leak coming from Igor’s Lab. The site posted a platform overview diagram for Meteor Lake mobile, and it gives us a lot of insight into the lineup.
The diagram highlights some of the main features of Meteor Lake and provides details on how each of those additions will improve the generation. Most importantly, though, we learn (more so get confirmation) that Meteor Lake will have three separate mobile lineups: H, P, and U.
Just doing a quick rundown on Intel processor suffixes, the “H” means high-performance, the “P” represents chips with slower integrated graphics than usual, while the “U” refers to ultra low-power silicone. So essentially, it’s high-end, midrange, and low-end, if you really want to boil it down to basics.
Firstly, the diagram makes it clear that MTL-P and MTL-H will top out at 14 cores (6+8), while MTL-U will only go up to a maximum of 12 cores (4+8). The reason being that the H-series is more focused on maximizing performance so it offers a distinct differentiator over the P-series. However, there’s something far more interesting when it comes to core configuration in Meteor Lake chips, and that’s the introduction of a new, third CPU core.
That’s right, a new core on top of the existing P-Cores and E-Cores, technically making Meteor Lake a triple-hybrid architecture consisting of three different types of cores under the hood.
We’re hearing about this third CPU core for the first time, it’s referred to as “LP E-Core” here, potentially standing for Low-Power Efficiency Core. A few rumors about Intel using ultra low-power cores in its CPUs have been floating around town, but nothing too substantial. But, now we know this to be true thanks to the diagram.
Moreover, Twitter user @OneRaichu pointed out that this third LP E-Core is packaged into the SoC-LP tile, and not in the Compute tile which contains the P-Cores and E-Cores. Interestingly, there will be only two of these cores on each die, which means they are being utilized by the Visual Processing Unit (VPU) and, thus, not added to the total core count.
The implementation of a third CPU core on Meteor Lake (mobile) makes it a tad bit more similar to ARM which also uses a 3-core foundation for all of its chips. Current speculation also suggests that one LP E-Core would be dedicated to each E-Core module (consisting of 4 E-Cores). This is inline with the 8-core maximum for E-Cores in Meteor Lake as each 4-core cluster gets its own LP E-Core.
the number of ulp core is two and only in the soc tile.
— Raichu (@OneRaichu) July 7, 2022
As for the main cores, Meteor Lake will use the Redwood Cove architecture for its P-Cores and Crestmont architecture for the E-Cores. Both of these will be the first new core architectures for Intel’s hybrid CPUs, replacing Golden Cove and Gracemont from the past 2 generations. Oh, and, the E-Cores still won’t have hyperthreading.
It’s important to mention that all of the CPU cores inside Meteor Lake, whether they’re efficient, high-performance, or low-powered, are manufactured using the 7nm “Intel 4” process node.
This is an interesting development as previously it was believed that Intel would employ TSMC to manufacture the SoC and GPU tile and, as we know, the LP E-Cores are inside the SoC tile according to @OneRaichu, so that would mean Intel is switching to in-house fabrication for two tiles, if this tip is indeed correct.
GPU tile breakdown
Moving on, we have the GPU tile which is based on Intel’s Xe-LPG (Low-Power Graphics) graphics architecture, and it will be manufactured using TSMC‘s 3nm process. We’ve known for a while now that the GPU configurations will vary between 96 and 128 Execution Units (EU), but, more importantly, that this architecture and EU pool will remain identical across the board in all MTL mobile lineups.
In the overview chart, the GPU is mentioned as using the Xe² architecture, which could either be the next-gen version of low-powered Alchemist (Xe¹) or simply the successor to Alchemist, which is Battlemage. Intel’s own roadmap suggests that 2023 CPUs will use Battemage but it’s not exactly confirmed.
Alder Lake and Raptor Lake are using Alchemist Gen 12.2 and some rumors suggest that Meteor Lake could be getting upgraded to Gen 12.7, which would mean that it remains on Alchemist after all. There’s conflicting reports regarding this in the wild right now, so we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle to see who’s accurate.
Regardless, the maximum EU count of 128 doubles that of Alder Lake and Raptor Lake, and is the same as the Arc A380 desktop GPU Intel recently launched. Therefore, we can expect similar performance from this Xe² integrated GPU, especially when you take the generational improvement in account, mixed in with the higher clock speeds granted by the more advanced process node.
There’s also is a rumor floating around that the tiled GPUs inside Meteor Lake chips might not use the XMX units that are inside Arc Alchemist GPUs. Instead, they would opt for partial FP64 compute enablement on board. Wccftech did a whole article on this that you can check out here. Though, take that information with a heavy grain of salt.
Memory, I/O, and more
Lastly, it’s important to go over the I/O and memory capabilities of Meteor Lake. Most of the I/O will be packaged inside the SoC-LP tile. This includes enabling support for PCIe Gen 5.0, USB4, DDR5 and more. Speaking of memory, Meteor Lake mobile will support both the DDR5 and LPDDR5(X) standards. To be specific, it can do DDR5-5600 with capacities of up to 96GB, and LPDDR5X-7467 with a maximum of 64GB of RAM.
PCIe Gen5 will only available on MTL-H chips with up to 8 lanes connected to a discrete GPU; no mention of Gen5 storage support. As for PCIe Gen4, you’ll get three Gen4 x4 lanes for the M.2 slot, so that’s 12 Gen4 lanes in total spread across three SSDs. There’s also another 12 Gen4 lanes dedicated to the GPU, making for a total of 24 Gen4 lanes in all Meteor Lake mobile lineups.
As for the other I/O, Meteor Lake will feature 10 USB 2.2 connections, two USB3 connections, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3, along with SATA3 x6. All in all, it’s about as packed as one would expect, sporting every feature you could possibly need or ask for.
That pretty much wraps it up for everything we learned from this massive leak, courtesy of Igor’s Lab. This is by far the most comprehensive and close-to-final look we’ve gotten at Meteor Lake till date. It’s exciting to see the changes and additions Intel has made to its next-next-gen hardware, one that’s still a solid year away at this point.
Meteor Lake is expected to debut in the second half of 2023, right after AMD’s Ryzen 7000 mobile CPUs. It would be fascinating to see the competition between MTL-H and AMD’s Dragon Range to see who truly comes out on top as the performance champion. I’ll leave you with a list of key highlights for Meteor Lake from the aforementioned details so you, too, can look at the overall package (no pun intended) Intel is developing, and get as excited for the future of mobility as me.
- Three-Core Hybrid CPU architecture
- P-Cores, E-Cores, LP E-Cores
- Redwood Cove Performance-Cores
- Crestmont Efficiency Cores
- Up to 14-cores with MTL-H and MTL-P
- Up to 12-cores with MTL-U
- 7nm ‘Intel 4’ process node
- Xe-LPG integrated GPU
- Intel Battlemage graphics architecture
- Up To 128 Execution Units
- DDR5-5600 and LPDDR5X-7467 Memory Support
- 96GB Maximum DDR5 capacity / 64GB Maximum LPDDR5X capacity
- Intel VPU for AI Inferencing with Atom Cores
- 8x PCIe Gen5 lanes for discrete GPU
- Three PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSDs support
- 4 Thunderbolt 4 Ports enabling USB4 and DisplayPort 1.4