Intel Surges Forward with 12th-Gen Core Chips

Posted on February 23, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile with 33 Comments

Taking a cue from ARM, Intel’s new portable PC chipsets will use a hybrid architecture that offers both power and efficiency. Now, its mainstream chips will offer both performance and efficiency cores, and it is splitting them into two product families, U-series and P-series.

Intel had previously dabbled with ARM-like hybrid chip architectures in low-volume chipsets. But this is the first time it is using such a thing in its mainstream chipsets for portable PCs.

Going forward, the Intel Core U-series will offer 9- and 15-watt designs, and the P-series will land at 28-watts and offer more power and performance. (Intel will continue to offer even higher-end H-series Core processors as well.) Both will offer some mix of performance and efficiency cores, with up to a total of 14 cores on the P-series chips. The new U-series chips will provide two performance cores and 6 to 10 efficiency cores depending on the model.

In one specific example, the new Core i7-1280P chipset delivers up to 70 percent better performance than last year’s Core i7-1195G7 and AMD Ryzen 7 5800U chips, while consuming about half the energy. And Intel is even claiming to beat Apple’s M1 and M1 Pro—but not the M1 Max, which is essentially a workstation chipset—in some benchmarks.

Each of the new chipsets will bring Iris Xe graphics and will support Wi-Fi 6E, Thunderbolt 4, and PCIe 4.0.

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (33)

33 responses to “Intel Surges Forward with 12th-Gen Core Chips”

  1. lvthunder

    This is good news. I wonder if they are going to integrate the RAM like Apple does. I don't see a downside to doing that at least on some of the laptop chips.

    • blue77star

      That's such a bad idea because it removes option to upgrade ram later on. Apple does not do everything right.

      • lvthunder

        Most laptops don't have the option to upgrade the RAM now. Most people don't upgrade their RAM anymore.

        • Donte

          You are right but mostly wrong. Yes some PC laptops, usually the utra-thin and lite come with no upgrades, but there are only a few of those.

          My company buys 4 different types of PC laptops, Lenovo T-15 and T-14 (gen 2's) and the Dell Lattitude 3520 and 5520. Basically the 14 inch and 15inch model from both companies. All 4 allow you to upgrade RAM, SSD and Battery (replace it). Yes the Lenovo's have either 8 or 16gig soldered on the motherboard but they come with a single open slot that you can add ram too. The Dell have two open slots and no soldered on RAM. The 15inch Dell's have two M.2 SSD slots as well.

          We actually buy them with the least amount of RAM and expand it with cheaper crucial options.

          I have no doubt that any gaming PC laptop has expandable RAM/SSD. Only Apple is 100% non-expandable.

        • Maverick010

          Actually a significant amount of laptops do have the ability to upgrade but the OEMs have made it harder to get to those upgrades. The only laptops that may have limited expandability and/or completely soldered parts, are the ultra light and thin laptops. This all could be changing for the better though as the right to repair is being pushed harder, and even Microsoft, is looking at making their possible next surface devices easier to repair/upgrade.

          Usually the notion of the no upgrades even with memory is due to have the vendor designed the laptop as they typically want you to come back to them for upgrades and repairs. Even if a laptop has a memory chip soldered, there is usually an available empty slot too. I also agree it is better to not integrate parts, as memory requirements are increasing not just for games, but also apps now too. Even for Windows 11, the Android Subsystem supports 8GB memory, but recommends 16GB.

          I get laptops are limited in expansion, but memory and storage should be upgradable at the minimum.

          • lvthunder

            Ultra light and thin are the only laptops I consider. I carry my laptop a lot and don't want the extra weight. So unless it's light and thin I don't pay attention to it.

        • brettscoast

          You are correct, they don't as RAM chips are soldered on to motherboards these days.

          • Donte

            Simply not true. I provided 4 examples above from Lenovo and Dell and those are run of the mill business laptops, not some fancy gaming rigs.

        • ianbetteridge

          That's correct. Outside gaming and the enthusiast market, almost no one upgrades RAM.

          • wright_is

            All the corporate laptops we looked at (Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu) have exandable RAM and replaceable storage. Heck, the ThinkPad I disassembled last week had a removable Wi-Fi NVMe card, so I could upgrade it from ac to Wifi 6, if I really wanted.

            Some of the ThinkPads have the base memory soldered onto the motherboard, but they still have a SO-DIMM slot as well, to expand the memory further.

            The ThinkPad T14 G2 can be upgraded, I just had a search, a 32GB SO-DIMM compatible with it costs $132. That is a good mid-range business laptop.

          • Donte

            We buy our corporate laptops usually with 8gig and buy 8gig modules in bulk and cheaper. We add a second stick when we image them. It is cheaper this way vs buy a 16gig laptop from the vendor. We will refresh 100's of laptops like this. We just completed a refresh in September of last year.

            • JerryH

              You would probably save more by ordering 16 Gb at the start, NOT having to pay your staff to image the devices and open them up to add RAM (use autopilot and don't image), and ship from the vendor direct to the user. If you haven't used autopilot, you should at least start testing it out.

            • lvthunder

              And how many people (companies) do you think do that? Not many I'm sure. I think Intel could do both. Provide some chips with built-in RAM and some without it.

          • Maverick010

            That actually would be incorrect. Besides gamers and enthusiast, graphic designers, cad users, businesses, photographers, video editors, etc, do memory and even storage upgrades. That is why expansion on memory is important.

            • pecosbob04

              On laptops‽ Seems that this would rarely be even a cost neutral buying strategy where laptops are concerned.

              • wright_is

                All of our laptops are upgradeable (RAM and storage). Many of the older laptops have been upgraded with SSDs.

                We had a faulty Lenovo ThinkPad in a couple of weeks back, it wouldn't boot and the SSD was only intermittently recognised. It had received a new SSD 18 months ago and we replaced it again - although it made no difference. It turns out there is a fault on ThinkPads of that generation, that there are cold solder joints on the disk controller cable, meaning that it intermittently loses connection with the SSD.

                My current ThinkPad can have its memory expanded and the storage increased (and the battery replaced). All our Latitudes are similarly equipped.

  2. johnnych

    It's good to see Intel changing up their processor design with big.LITTLE and lower-watts and so forth. Listening to the last Windows Weekly podcast was pretty wild, it seems like Paul is more concerned about the future of Windows itself rather than the X86 architecture at this point? :)

    Sent from my Macbook-Pro-M1-Max-14-inch-ARM-based laptop (Intel free since pre 2023!)

    • wright_is

      The problem is, those big.LITTLE chips aren't really that economical. Given the same battery size, the MBP M1 Pro/Max lasts 3 times longer on battery than a laptop with the Core i9-12900HK. Also, it needs 115W to exceed your M1 MacBook benchmarks, which it achieved at 34W...

      It is a step in the right direction, but Intel are still a very long way behind, in terms of efficiency. They might have the raw power for pushing bits around, but it is at a frightful cost, in terms of power draw.

      Given the current spike in energy costs (German households are looking at an additional $515 on their electricity bill this year, and that is without taking into account what the war in Ukraine might do to energy prices, due to sanctions on Russia), if the likes of Qualcomm and Mediatek can get their act together this year, we might see a huge jump for ARM.

      x86's only real selling point is backward compatibility with some legacy software - which also usually only runs on old versions of Windows as well - and legacy hardware, where the cost of getting "ARM drivers" would run into 6 figures (i.e. you have to buy a new piece of equipment and throw away your perfectly functioning one, we have that problem with spectophotometers and other lab equipment, much of it is still working fine, but the software and drivers only work on XP, getting updated software that would run on Windows 8/10 would cost between $50,000 and $250,000).

      Heck, we have a metal shield printer on one site, which prints those safety shields etc. It dates from the early 90s and runs only on MS-DOS with a serial cable. A replacement printer would cost us around $70,000. It just isn't worth the investment, we bought a second printer off eBay for around $1,000, in case the current one breaks. We don't need flashy software or new features, it does what it needs to do. The PC is simply isolated from the network. The same for the lab equipment mentioned above, they do their analysis and print locally and that's all they need to do.

  3. jdjan

    When chipmakers compete everyone wins.

    I’m not sure why the comparisons to M1 are meaningful. Very few folks cross shop Mac and PC - the determinant is usually the OS. It’s not like I can configure a Windows laptop with Apple Silicon or vice versa.

    • wright_is

      I was replacing my Ryzen 1700 Windows 10 desktop just before Christmas... Well, it went from Windows to Linux in late October/early November, but that is an aside.

      I was looking for good performance with low energy consumption, so I ended up going with an M1 Mac mini.

      I currently have a 2016 Windows 10 laptop, a 2010 Linux laptop, a Raspberry Pi 400, a couple of Pi 3s and the Mac. The Mac is now my main machine.

      (Electricity prices increasing by over 60% - an additional 455€ per Year for an average household in Germany - was one of the key factors in looking for something efficient.)

      • lvthunder

        And energy prices are only going to get worse. Especially in the short term with what Russia is doing.

  4. wright_is

    c't looked at the Core i9-12 HK model, in Cinebech R23 MT, it got a good 18,000 points, compared to the M1-Pro 12,500 points, but the important difference was, that the Core i9 "mobile" chip was using something around 115W to get that benchmark and the MSI gamin laptop was generating around 65dB fan noise, whereas the MacBook Pro was silent and used a maximum of around 34W for the same benchmark.

    They might beat the M1 Pro is raw performance, but, if the M1 Pro can offer 70% of the performance at 30% of the power consumption, Intel still have a long way to go...

    • geoff

      This is still my overall concern with Intel's attempt at copying ARM's so-called BIG.little architecture.

      Intel clearly has a very good 'performance' processor core they can use. And that meets the 'performance' part of the equation.

      But Intel still does not have a good 'efficiency' core. So they just use a different 'performance' core and call the job done.

      This isn't the BIG.little processor we were hoping for.

  5. Maverick010

    Ultimately I am waiting for AMD's new DDR5 Platform and Ryzen Zen 4 CPUs to hit. I may even wait to Zen 5 hits as that will be AMD's hybrid chip competitor and I am not in a rush for a new computer yet as my custom built system with Ryzen 9 5900X still works well and gets the job done. The move to DDR5 and more specifically USB 4 and TB4 may potentially have me move sooner than later. I am already seeing rumors that AMD may bring Ryzen Zen 4 out much sooner between April and June.

  6. shark47

    This is pretty awesome. I'll probably buy a new PC later this year, so I'm looking forward to checking them out.

  7. Stabitha.Christie

    In the 90s or early 2000s if someone would have told me that Intel’s marketing and advertising would be based, in part, on them having to promote the fact that they can match Apple’s custom chips performance, I would called then a damn liar and poked them with a stick.

  8. will

    This is what will power the next Surface Laptop if memory serves correctly? I had seen the P series showing up in some info sheets on upcoming laptops but was not sure if it was just a rebrand or something new.

  9. truerock2

    Given the Thunderbolt 4 support, I'm wondering if notebooks will have USB4 and/or DisplayPort 2.0 alternate mode

  10. straker135

    This sounds great for the consumer, once we see them in the wild. It is a pity Microsoft got so burned by the problems with Skylake that they seem to have sworn off bleeding edge chips in the Surface line. I would like to see the yet to be announced Surface Laptop 5 with these new chips. Have at it AMD and Intel, we all win when you compete :-)

    • will

      The P series was mentioned the leaked info on the SL5

    • Maverick010

      Microsoft started to go back to top line chips as of the last surface line update. This year they will supposed be using the latest Intel and AMD CPUs.