Leaked results from Intel’s upcoming Rocket Lake CPU suggested that the new core could be more competitive with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series than we’ve seen with the 10th generation. New Geekbench 5 leaks, taken with the usual spoonful of sodium chloride, still point in this direction.
The new results show that Intel’s Core i7-11700K outperforms 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 CPU, it represents the first new desktop CPU architecture for Intel since 2015. It is based on the Cypress Cove CPU core, which is itself a backdrop of the 10nm Sunny Cove CPU core that Intel introduced in 2019.
A quick primer: Whiskey Lake is Intel’s previous 14 nm mobile platform. Comet Lake is Intel’s previous desktop platform, supporting up to 10 CPU cores. Rocket Lake cut the core count down to eight again and (reportedly) lowered the core clock slightly, as we will discuss.
The alleged clock speeds for the CPU imply that Intel withheld all its IPC gains and sacrificed only a modest amount of clock to do so. WCCFTech reports that based on GeekBench 5 results, the Core i7-11700K is 1.34x faster in ST and 1.26x faster in MT, compared to the Core i7-10700K. This is a bit surprising compared to what we saw happening on mobile devices a few years ago.
When Intel switched from Whiskey Lake (14 nm mobile) to Ice Lake (10 nm mobile), the CPU processing history was generally a wax. While Ice Lake / Sunny Cove CPUs were faster than the older Skylake CPU family in certain tests, the gains were not uniform. Intel only forecast a net profit of ~ 3.5 percent. However, GeekBench tends to show larger gaps.
According to the GB5 database, GeekBench 5 ST can run 1.09x faster on Ice Lake compared to Whiskey Lake. Multi-threaded performance is as much as 1.19x higher.
The implication here is that GeekBench 5 can exaggerate the performance difference between CPUs like the Core i7-8665U and the Core i7-1065G7 – and thus also exaggerate the degree of real improvement between the Core i7-10700K and the Core i7-11700K.
Higher clocks may be part of the improvement, but as we noted at the beginning of this story, the Rocket Lake CPUs are officially 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) is an 8C / 16T, 3.6 GHz / 5.0 GHz CPU. It is possible that Rocket Lake lasts longer turbo than Comet Lake does – and if this is true, it would explain the performance difference between the two CPU families.
As for the 9 per cent rise against AMD in both ST and MT, this is not entirely unexpected and may not be a good predictor of actual performance, based on the way GB5 reacts to Sunny Cove. The fact that GB5 can work particularly well in a given architecture is why we perform several tests in the first place.
If we consider the performance improvement on face value, it would give Intel some room to sell the Core i7-11700K at a higher price compared to the 5800X. Historically, it’s Intel’s preferred move, but the company may decide to shake things up this time around.
A 9 percent performance improvement is enough to declare a clear victory over AMD at the eight-core level, but it will not isolate the 11th Gen Core processors from AMD’s ability to carry more core points per socket. The Core i7-11700K achieves 1,810 and 11,304 compared to 1,697 / 13,963 for the Ryzen 9 5900X. Intel wins ST by about 1.06x compared to the 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 its MT loss, but an additional performance of 4-8 percent does not make the comparison does not change dramatically. This, of course, assumes that an application is effectively scaled up to 12 core points in the first place.
The big question mark is whether Intel can regain the lead in gaming performance. This is a critical consumer market that probably drove AMD away from Intel for the first time in more than a decade, and Intel will be very interested in reclaiming it. Again, as always, you should treat leaked or early results carefully.