Leaking results from Intel’s upcoming Rocket Lake CPU have suggested that the new core may be more competitive with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series than we saw with the 10th generation family. New Geekbench 5 leaks, taken with the usual spoon of sodium chloride, continue to point in this direction.
The new results show Intel’s Core i7-11700K surpassing the Ryzen 7 5800X by about 9 percent in both single-wire and multi-wire code. This is not necessarily unexpected. While Rocket Lake is still a 14nm processor, it represents the first new desktop CPU architecture for Intel since 2015. It is based on the Cypress Cove CPU core, which in itself is a downside to the 10nm Sunny Cove CPU core like Intel introduced back in 2019.
A quick primer: Whiskey Lake is Intel’s former 14nm mobile platform. Comet Lake is Intel’s previous desktop platform, supporting up to 10 CPU cores. Rocket Lake has trimmed the core count back to eight again and (allegedly) lowers the core clock a bit, which we will discuss.
The alleged clock speeds for the CPU mean that Intel has backported all its IPC gains and only sacrificed a modest amount of clock to do so. WCCFTech reports that Core i7-11700K is based on GeekBench 5 results 1.34 times faster in ST and 1.26 times faster in MT compared to Core i7-10700K. This is a bit surprising compared to what we saw happen in mobile a few years back.
When Intel went from Whiskey Lake (14 nm mobile) to Ice Lake (10 nm mobile), the CPU performance history was generally a wash. While Ice Lake / Sunny Cove processors were faster than the older Skylake CPU family in certain tests, the gain was not uniform. Intel only predicted a net gain of ~ 3.5 percent. However, GeekBench tends to show larger holes.
According to the GB5 database, GeekBench 5 ST can run 1.09 times faster on Ice Lake compared to Whiskey Lake. Multi-wire performance is as much as 1.19 times higher.
The implication here is that GeekBench 5 can exaggerate the performance difference between CPUs such as Core i7-8665U and Core i7-1065G7 – and can therefore also exaggerate the degree of actual improvement between Core i7-10700K and Core i7-11700K.
Higher clocks may be part of the improvement, but as we noted at the beginning of this story, Rocket Lake processors officially clock slightly lower than their Comet Lake counterparts: the Core i7-10700K is an 8C / 16T, 3.8 GHz / 5, 1 GHz CPU, while the Core i7-11700K (rumored) should be an 8C / 16T, 3.6 GHz / 5.0 GHz CPU. It is possible that Rocket Lake keeps the turbo for longer than Comet Lake does – and if it is true, it would explain some of the performance difference between the two CPU families.
When it comes to the 9 percent gain over AMD in both ST and MT, this is not entirely unexpected, and it may not be a good predictor of performance in the real world based on the way GB5 seems to respond to Sunny Cove. The fact that GB5 can run particularly well on a given architecture, is why we run several tests in the first place.
If we take the performance improvement at face value, it will give Intel some room to sell the Core i7-11700K at a higher price compared to the 5800X. Historically, this is Intel’s favorite move, but the company may choose to shake things up this time.
A 9 percent improvement in performance is enough to declare a clear victory over AMD at the eight-core level, but it will not isolate 11th-generation Core processors from AMD’s ability to bring more cores to carry per outlet. Core i7-11700K scores 1810 and 11 304 compared to 1697/13 963 for Ryzen 9 5900X. Intel wins ST by about 1.06x against 5900X and loses multi-threading by 1.23x.
Intel will of course launch a Core i9-11900K, and we can expect the chip to modestly increase its ST lead while reducing MT loss, but a further 4-8 percent performance will not change the equation dramatically. Of course, this assumes that an application scales efficiently to 12 cores in the first place.
The big question mark will be whether Intel can take the lead again in gaming performance. It is a critical consumer market that AMD no doubt spoke away from Intel for the first time in over a decade, and Intel will be very interested in reclaiming it. Again, as always, treat leaky or early results with care.