Earlier this month Intel released the first round of 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' desktop CPUs with much pomp and press coverage, and it's fair to say that the platform received plenty of plaudits for both performance and innovation. The processors available today constitute just the unlocked 'K'-series (i.e. overclockable) chips however; the balance of their 'locked' desktop range for mainstream systems and OEMs remain in the eaves, waiting for an opportune time to launch and carve off another slice of the market. In fact, it appears that their arrival date has already been pencilled in.
Serial leaker @momomo_us put out a not-quite-cryptic tweet today that indicates the expected launch windows of the locked '12th Gen.' Core Processors, the SKUs that are anticipated, and an overview of their specs.
It's not too difficult to unpack. The first column is the significant part of the processor model, i.e. 9 = i9-12900, 7 = i7-12700, 6 = i5-12600 etc. Next is the a base operating frequency of the processor (likely the lower of the P-Core and E-Cores bases frequencies). Then the Max Turbo. And finally the total L3 cache size.
We should note that the specifications as described indicate that the transition from K-SKU to non-K-SKU is a not quite a simple 'lock it up and ship it' process. Some specs differ meaningfully, and not just in terms of the base and boost clocks. From the total amount of L3 'Intel Smart Cache' we can also infer each SKUs total number of active cores.
With 30MB of L3 cache the i9-12900/F will likely be equipped with the full 16 cores present on the i9-12900K/F - 8 Performance and 8 Efficiency. Similarly the i7-12700/F should have the same 12 cores - 8 Performance and 4 Efficiency - as the i7-12700K/F. The Max Turbo and Base frequencies are similar to their K siblings, but not identical, i.e. a 2.1GHz base for the 12700 is substantially lower than the 2.7GHz E-Core base of the 12700K/F.
Assuming the information is correct, the i5-12600 will be equipped with just 18MB of L3 cache. It has been speculated that this is indicative of having 6 Performance cores only rather than the 6P+4E layout of the 12600K/F, marking it out as the most substantial deviation from the K-Series template. The presence of an 15-12500 and i5-12400 with similar core layout could however mean that there's an error here; it would be strange for these processors to be differentiated by clock speed (and potentially Turbo power mode settings) alone.
There's no i5-12500K/F to compare these specs to, and the i5-12400K/F is currently expected but still AWOL. Both i3 models meanwhile probably have 4 performance cores only, making the E-core predominantly (and paradoxically) an enthusiast-level feature on desktop systems.
Platform specific features, particularly support for PCIe 5.0 for the GPU and chipset I/O, are still a mystery. It would make sense for Intel to use PCIe 5.0 as an exclusive selling point of the Z690 chipset, but they have to be careful not to leave the B660 hung out to dry compared to the H670.
All this, of course, needs to be taken with more than a grain of salt. If true however then a co-launch alongside B660 and H670/H610 would make a lot of sense, if indeed the chipsets aren't available sooner.
Nonetheless, the one major hang-up for Intel might be out of their direct control. Availability of DDR5 DIMMs in North America and Europe remains exceptionally low and prices are correspondingly high, heavily impacting adoption for even the relatively narrow enthusiast-class platform. It would be unsurprising therefore to see some of these budget-oriented motherboards, perhaps even the majority, supporting DDR4 in this segment of the market too.