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How Intel designed the 13th Gen Core CPUs and how it learned what users wanted: Interview with Gokul V Subramaniam


Intel recently launched the first CPUs in its 13th Gen Core series. The company has started with high-end, overclockable desktop CPUs aimed at gamers and enthusiasts, with the new Core i9-13900K at the top. Last year, the company made a big change, introducing its first heterogeneous Hybrid Architecture that combines the much-anticipated high-performance cores with a large number of smaller, more power-efficient cores. . This has delivered a significant jump in performance for multithreaded workloads and situations where multiple programs run concurrently.

With the 13th Gen, codenamed Raptor Lake, Intel has continued this and has in fact increased the number of E cores. Other improvements include higher clock speeds and cache architectures. improved. New overclocking records have been set by experts.

Gadgets 360 had a chance to talk to some Intel’s senior management at the time Debuting the 13th generation in India, including Gokul V Subramaniam, Vice President, Customer Computing Group and GM Customer Systems & Platforms. Here’s what he has to say about Intel’s design philosophy, what users want, and the balance between power and performance.

13th Gen Intel Desktop K Artificial Intelligence

The 13th Gen CPU lineup launched so far, all geared towards enthusiasts and gamers

Gadgets 360: Let me start by talking about India, as we are about to come out of the pandemic. PC sales have seen surprising growth, but products are frequently out of stock and prices are sky-high. How is the market now?

Gokul V Subramaniam: The pandemic has really shown us how important the PC is and what it means to users. We have seen the personal computer at the forefront, be it for work from home, for study, for healthcare, you name it. That is really important to us. It may have had some ups and downs, but the value of the PC has really gone up.

Gadgets 360: Considering how many years it takes to develop a CPU, is the 13th generation starting to take shape during the pandemic? Has anything changed about how it was developed or what went into the final product?

Gokul V Subramaniam: That is an interesting and difficult question. I can’t tell you when. What I can tell you is Hybrid Architecture starting with Generation 12 and we’ve continued to build on improvements and capabilities. That’s all the 13th Gen is about. There’s a few things we’ve done – increased the number of E cores, added more cache, brought back foundational features, sought to improve our tools for memory overclocking and overclocking, improved improve thermal space. We built all of this as an evolution and The journey continues. So, in that sense, that’s how the 13 Gen’s development journey went.

Gadgets 360: What do you think is driving the upgrade cycle today and is it lengthening or shortening, considering that Intel kicked off Gen 13 with CPUs aimed at enthusiasts?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I think performance is a big claim [from users]. Flexibility is one of the key factors. Availability, like when you launch and then it delivers and can get our customers to build the product. And then of course compatibility. These are the big motivations for us to build Generation 13.

13th Gen Intel e Core Diagram

Intel used the same Gracemont E-core core design that the 12th Gen had, but increased their numbers

Gadgets 360: Has anything changed in your view of performance measurement? What are the most important use cases for end users now?

Gokul V Subramaniam: That is a great question. Let’s talk about Raptor Lake S and the 13th generation lineup. We think it’s good to put performance in perspective with real user benchmarks and workflows. We look at content creators and that includes game developers. It’s a combination of what the gaming community and enthusiasts want. Are we bringing that up? What is an actual day in the life of a user, be it a creator or a gamer? And how is that really optimized for what we’re offering? And of course, what do the benchmarks actually show?

Gadgets 360: Especially now that Hybrid Architecture is live, is there anything that the benchmarks don’t really tell the whole story?

Gokul V Subramaniam: Benchmarks never tell the full story! I think workflow is a good way to look at it. If I’m a creator and I want to edit videos and use Photoshop, and I want to do a lot of things in parallel, what would that workflow look like? And the same goes for gamers.

Gadgets 360: When it comes to performance, we’re now seeing increased power requirements across the industry. Is this a question of really needing to push more power into the CPU to get this kind of result? Is there a need for that?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I think there is a clear power requirement for you to achieve this performance [levels]. And then you can do things like be more efficient by having a Hybrid Architecture. So can we say, hey, instead of continuing to throw in P cores, can I find a way to get the same performance that users need with more efficient cores? And I can do things like improve my cache so I can [improve] performance? There are architectural implications rather than just continuing to push for higher capacity, because that would also have a sustainability aspect to it. So we look at the architecture as a whole. And that’s why we do basic things like Hybrid Architecture and Thread Directors, to make sure we can deliver performance and really stay on top of the power needed.

Gadgets 360: Is it a Shift in Demand? There is a lot of focus on energy efficiency, especially since the market is shifting towards laptops. Have we now flipped back with an absolute push for maximum power possible?

Gokul V Subramaniam: No, we always strike a balance between performance and power in all of our products and architectures. When we deliver performance, we want to make sure we’re using the right capacity for it. Lots of uses and users are expecting what they see in a desktop laptop, in terms of energy efficiency. But having said that, it’s a static device. There is no battery in it. But we always consider the form factor and the need to meet its needs, then make a decision that balances performance and power. I wouldn’t call it a flip or a sudden change, It’s always a matter of consideration. That’s why even in the 12th Generation there was Hybrid Architecture. We’re improving it in Generation 13. It’s a technological journey we’re on.

Gadgets 360: Launched K-series models aimed at enthusiasts, but I don’t suppose you can talk about the rest of the lineup? Regarding the wattage target, where around 60-65W is the normal threshold for a desktop computer, that would expand as well?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I can’t say that, but we strive to accommodate every user need and customer want, and that’s what determines the power we need to achieve that performance. We never say “This is the power we’re using and we’ll make the performance match that”. It’s a function of what the user wants, the workload, the workflow. Then we identify performance needs from that and then figure out segments and segments.

Intel overclocks 13th Gen Intel

Professional overclockers have passed the 8.8GHz mark with a 13th Gen CPU

Gadgets 360: Speaking of K SKUs, where is the overclocking headline? Is there a desire for more testing from the casual, more expected user? Is there more demand for fine tuning?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I think that’s really interesting. We realize enthusiasts want to overclock, so we’re trying to make sure we give them the right tools. There are per-core throttling, but then you also want something like a one-click speed optimizer so beginners can try it out safely and responsibly, in and system limitations.

And there are things that are within the specs, like Thermal Velocity Boost and Adaptive Thermal Boost. They take into account temperature, thermal range, etc. These are tools that help our OEM, our customer, create products that match specifications. What kind of form factor are they, building, temperature and power supply do they need, what kind of frequency pulses can they deliver and still have thermal insulation? And thus when the end user receives it.

Gadgets 360: We see a significant increase in the number of E cores with this generation. How does Intel decide exactly what each segment requires, and how do you balance the number of P cores versus E cores for any given price point or segment?

Gokul V Subramaniam: What do users want? What performance do they need? We take different attributes [into account] to design what we need to deliver. Do we increase the number of E cores? Do we need P cores? And then we look at the electricity budget. So with this generation, we found that with the same Skylake efficiency cores we can deliver more in the same power envelope, which is a better design. You’re being energy efficient, but you can still get the performance your workflow needs, and that’s how we decide where and how much to put, and Hybrid Architecture allows us to play with those. We do all these simulations to arrive at the right design.

Gadgets 360: I’m sure somewhere in some underground lab there’s a locked room maybe a prototype chip with only 48 E cores or something. Is it possible to do something like that with the same die area and power supply? What prevents you from doing that?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I can’t answer that question!

Is there anything different or optimized to encourage people to use 13th Gen CPUs with the new Intel Arc GPU? Or even if it’s just at the marketing level, are you doing anything to encourage people to build an all-powerful Intel system?

Gokul V Subramaniam: We always do that. We build very open technologies. All platforms, all software development, everything is very open. We do not use proprietary platforms. Our goal is as an industry and for consumers, whenever they buy our parts, they get the best experience no matter what else they have. They won’t lose anything by buying a non-Intel part. So if our goal is to make sure that our products perform at their best, no matter what environment it is in.

Gadgets 360: Why are the E cores on the 13th Gen still Gracemont? What prevented Intel from doing anything different in that respect?

Gokul V Subramaniam: We chose the core design needed to meet our performance goals, so to be able to deliver what the enthusiast segment needs, we made the decision.

Is there another development rhythm after that? There won’t be an annual E-core architecture refresh right?

Gokul V Subramaniam: I can’t answer that, it’s a future product question. We have a roadmap for our various core designs but that’s not something I can share today. We talked about Meteor Lake and Lake Arrow on a high level but we haven’t talked about the core structure that goes into them.

Some of the answers have been condensed and slightly edited for clarity.

Disclosure: Intel sponsored reporter flights for the event in New Delhi.

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