Intel Alder Lake Laptop CPUs Achieve Big Milestone While Meteor Lake Smiles For A Cameo

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Judging by the way many people talk about them, it seems like a large contingent of folks don't realize that 12th-generation Intel Core desktop processors based on Alder Lake have actually been released. They're out there; you can go buy them right now, along with compatible motherboards and premium-priced (at least for now) DDR5 memory. What hasn't hit the market yet are Intel's 12th-generation mobile processors, but it looks like they're on the way. 

Late yesterday, the EVP and GM of Intel's Client Computing Group Gregory Bryant tweeted a collage of photos of Intel employees standing outside the company's Haifa, Israel complex holding the aforementioned 12th-generation processors.

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Intel Alder Lake Mobile Team - Credit: GB, Intel

The photo came along with the announcement that the company is "shipping [Intel's] high-performance mobile processors to customers." Customers in this case refers to Intel's customers for these parts, which would be laptop vendors like Lenovo, Dell, HP, and so on. As such, we'll probably start seeing new laptops with those CPUs before long, but not immediately.

Intel 14th Gen Meteor Lake Processors Pictured

The other bit of news concerns Intel's 14th-generation chips. That's right, we're skipping Raptor Lake for the moment. If you follow the news on this kind of thing, you may recall that Intel is building two gigantic fabs in Arizona. These will complement the bleeding-edge fabrication facility already in production there. The chip giant allowed c|net to take a rare tour of its facilities, and the company has a handful of high-resolution images from the inside of the fab.

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Intel Meteor Lake - Credit: CNet, Stephen Shankland

You can head over to the C|net article to see all the images, but the one at the top of this article might be the most interesting for our purposes. It depicts a test package for Meteor Lake. There's no functional processor silicon there; these are strictly electrical test samples to make sure Intel's Foveros packaging is functioning correctly.

Still, the image is intriguing. We already knew that Intel was moving toward a chiplet-based design for all of its upcoming processors within the next few years, but seeing the Meteor Lake processor in the flesh with four separate chiplets inside the package is fascinating, especially given that some or all of the parts of that processor are surely vertically-stacked. That's the point of Foveros, after all.

Further fascinating is the idea that, in the final form of such a processor, some of the chiplets will be made by Intel, while others are fabbed by TSMC. Intel already announced that it will be pursuing "hybrid manufacturing" for processors, which simply means that the chiplets in a package could come from different places. We also already heard that Intel has supposedly secured a significant portion of TSMC's early 3nm fabrication capacity for its next-generation processors.

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Image: Commercial Times

What's new is this report from Taiwan's Commercial Times that seems to state that Meteor Lake processors will have their CPU cores fabbed on Intel's own "Intel 4" process, but that the GPU and I/O tiles will be fabbed by TSMC. Specifically, the report claims that the I/O tiles (which contain the memory controller, PCIe 5.0 interface, USB controllers, and so on) will be fabbed on TSMC's 5nm (or 4nm) process, while the Xe-LP Gen12.7-based GPU tiles will be fabbed on TSMC's 3nm process.

It's important to note that the meat of the Commercial Times report is attributed to the site's own anonymous "industry sources," which puts this squarely in rumor territory. Still, it's not unbelievable. Intel already said earlier this year that Meteor Lake will come with a massive GPU sporting 192 Xe execution units. That's double the size of anything planned for Alder Lake or Raptor Lake. Given that, using the smallest process available might help reduce the size and power requirements of the GPU tile inside Intel's 14th-generation Core processors.

These chips supposedly aren't coming until 2023, so all of this is subject to change. Naturally, we'll let you know if it does, so keep your eyes right here on HotHardware.