Intel Arrow Lake-S: Core Counts Stagnant, But Big Tweaks Incoming

Following Intel’s previously disclosed roadmap, the next-generation Arrow Lake processors are slated for release in 2024. The desktop variant, Arrow Lake-S, will embrace the LGA 1851 socket and will see both its P-Cores and E-Cores upgraded to the new Lion Cove and Skymont architectures, respectively.

Recent leaks suggest that Arrow Lake-S will not increase its core count, maintaining the same scale as the Raptor Lake Refresh, with up to 24 cores in total. Intel is expected to offer three chip configurations, with P-Core and E-Core arrangements being 8P+16E, 6P+16E, and 6P+8E. Furthermore, Intel might abandon the hyper-threading technology it has employed for years on P-Cores, opting instead for a novel approach.

Intel plans to manufacture the compute tiles for Arrow Lake using its Intel 20A process technology, incorporating two groundbreaking technologies: RibbonFET and PowerVia. RibbonFET, Intel’s implementation of the Gate All Around (GAA) transistor, replaces the FinFET introduced in 2011. It accelerates transistor switching speeds while achieving the same drive current as the multi-fin structure, yet occupying less space. PowerVia, Intel’s proprietary and the industry’s first backside power delivery network, optimizes signal transmission by eliminating the need for front-side power routing on the wafer.

Arrow Lake-S will feature 24 PCIe direct connect lanes, with 16 dedicated to discrete graphics cards and the remaining eight for two M.2 SSDs. This new generation of processors will support DDR5-6400 memory, discontinuing support for DDR4, signifying that both Intel and AMD are transitioning their platforms entirely to DDR5. The new platform is expected to support DisplayPort output and Thunderbolt 4 connectors at a UHBR20 link rate (80Gbps), contingent on the motherboard having the appropriate retimer chips, which are not inexpensive. Paired with the 800 series chipset, it amalgamates virtually every connectivity option a user could desire, including NVMe, SATA, PCIe, and USB 3.2 Gen2x2.