12th generation Intel Core processors based on Alder Lake hybrid architecture have brought many revolutionary technological solutions. The most interesting thing is, of course, the introduction of P-Core and E-Core, which are separate cores, which breaks existing patterns in the office backyard. However, what performance would E-Core have separately from P-Core units and vice versa? The problem, although purely theoretical, seems really intriguing, so I decided to check it on the example of the Intel Core i9-12900K processor. All measurements were performed on a platform with Patriot Viper Venom RGB DDR5 memory and Windows 11.
Author: Sebastian Oktaba
Let’s start by explaining what the structure of the Alder Lake systems looks like, focusing on the sections of the computing units. More efficient Performance Core (P-Core) uses Golden Cove cores, designed to provide an almost 30% increase in single-thread performance over Comet Lake. I would like to remind you that the gen 7/8/9/10 Intel Core was based on the old Skylake, where the performance gains were achieved mainly by increasing the clock speed, increasing the number of cores and expanding the cache. Ultimately, the Performance Core is responsible for handling the most demanding operations, which is why they take up more space in the silicon fabric – each individual P-Core is a separate instance. The Alder Lake architecture provides for up to eight such cores supporting the Hyper-Threading technique, that is, the most powerful section runs up to sixteen threads. Interestingly, the die in 10nm lithography for 8P+8E systems takes up 215mm², while the 14nm Rocket Lake-S took up 276mm². For better performance, the manufacturer also recommends Windows 11, where processors have access to additional telemetry data.
Can Intel Core i9-12900K deliver higher performance after disabling E-Cores or Hyper-Threading? We will verify this today by running measurements on the fast DDR5 Patriot Viper Venom and Windows 11.
The lower Efficiency Cores (E-Cores) are based on the Intel Gracemont architecture which succeeds Intel Tremont, acting as an auxiliary to the Performance Core. Therefore, when high throughput is not required, they should theoretically handle simpler tasks while reducing overall power consumption. Like the larger nuclei, there are a maximum of eight in the Alder Lake matrix, but they are nevertheless grouped into sections of four. The area of a single E-Core block containing four cores roughly corresponds to the area of a P-Core. It is also worth pointing out that Efficiency Core does not support Hyper-Threading technology, so the number of threads in the new processors is not twice the number of cores. However, the manufacturer states that the single-thread efficiency of the E-Core used at Alder Lake is comparable to that of full-size Comet Lake cores, and if we combine a single Gracemont core with Skylake, we get around 40% efficiency. superior with 40% less energy consumption. The more powerful Alder Lake variant also includes 30MB of dynamically allocated L3 cache – Golden Cove can be given a maximum of 3MB for the core, while Gracemont is allocated 3MB for each module.
|Setting 1||Setting 2||Setting 3||Setting 4|
|Total number of threads||24||16||8||9|
|DDR5 memory||Patriot Adder Venom||Patriot Adder Venom||Patriot Adder Venom||Patriot Adder Venom|
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The test includes four configurations: 8P/8E plus Hyper-Threading, 8P/0E plus Hyper-Threading, 8P/0E without Hyper-Threading, and 1P/8E also with multi-threading disabled. Unfortunately, the complete deactivation of the P-Cores proves impossible, always a Core Performance must remain on (it is imposed by the UEFI). Of course, this makes it difficult to accurately determine the efficiency of the E-Cores, although the computational load is mostly shifted to the E-Cores, especially since the P-Core operates in such parameters without the Hyper-Threading enabled. You can find a detailed overview of the configuration in the table above. Complementing the hardware platform, I used a set of fast DDR5 2x 16 GB Patriot Viper Venom RGB 6200 MHz CL40 memory, along with the Windows 11 operating system, creating optimal conditions for the processor. However, I am aware that you would like to see additional results with DDR4 modules and Windows 10, making it easier to compare performance with other processors, so I plan to return to this subject in the near future. The purpose of this summary is to show the relationship between P-Core and E-Core, the impact of Hyper-Threading on overall health, and to answer a few questions. Guess the sound – can disabling E-Core or Hyper-Threading increase Intel Core i9-12900K performance in some applications?