Raptor Lake Adds Little Cores

Despite a short design cycle, Intel boosted the performance of its 13th Generation Core processor by up to 15% over the previous generation through higher clock speeds and more “efficiency” cores.
Linley Gwennap
Linley Gwennap

Intel’s first Raptor Lake products target gamers, offering higher clock speeds and more cores than the previous Alder Lake. The flagship Core i9-13900K can achieve speeds of up to 5.8GHz, faster than any other x86 processor, for blazing single-thread performance. It adds not just one or two but eight of the smaller “efficiency” cores (E-cores), boosting throughput for content creation and other highly threaded applications.

Designed primarily in Israel, Raptor Lake was a fast-turn project to fill the gap when Meteor Lake slipped into 2023. It seemed like a hopeless assignment: deliver a full-generation performance gain without changing the CPU’s physical design and while using the same manufacturing process. Yet the small team accomplished the task, as the 13900K achieves 15% better single-thread performance than the 12900K and a huge 41% more multithread performance. Gaming throughput, which is often bottlenecked by components outside the CPU, rises by an average of 5% across a wide range of popular titles.

In addition to the faster clock and additional cores, a third major performance benefit comes from enlarging the L2 caches and improving the prefetcher. The GPU and north bridge remain essentially the same as in Alder Lake, although the maximum DRAM speed rises to DDR-5600. The new features boost the maximum power slightly to 253W.

The new K-series is only the first wave of Raptor Lake. We expect Intel to introduce additional desktop S- and T-series products later this year, followed by a full set of mobile products in early 2023. The desktop models will compete against AMD’s recently announced Ryzen 7000 (Raphael) processor. Raptor Lake systems should arrive in October, just a month after Raphael PCs.

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