Desktop-Caliber Processors for Mobile Workstations
Intel has announced new additions to their 12th Gen mobile processor family, with the 12th Gen Intel Core HX CPUs. These are not your typical mobile parts, as Intel says that they “utilize desktop-caliber silicon in a mobile package”, and indeed they appear to be BGA versions of desktop CPUs (a bit more on the packaging and size of these later).
Given the desktop-caliber architecture of these new HX CPUs, it seems like Intel’s claim that they “deliver high levels of performance for professional workflows like CAD, animation and visual effects” will easily be validated – depending on the laptop’s thermal solution, that is.
About the HX Processors: The 12th Gen Intel Core HX processor family delivers real-world productivity, collaboration, content creation, gaming and entertainment in innovative mobile designs:
- Up to 16 cores (8 Performance-cores and 8 Efficient-cores) and 24 threads running at a processor base power of 55W
- Access to x16 PCIe Gen 5.0 via the processor and 4×4 PCIe Gen 4.0 from a dedicated platform controller hub (PCH) for increased bandwidth and faster data transfers
- An industry-first unlocked and overclockable series of mobile processors
- Memory support for up to 128GBs of DDR5/LPDDR5 (up to 4800MHz/5200MHz) and DDR4 (up to 3200MHz/LPDDR4 4267MHz) with Error Correcting Code (ECC) capability
- Designs with Intel Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+)2 for improved connectivity and access to the new 6 GHz Spectrum
12th Gen Intel Core HX Processor Lineup
The new 12th Gen Intel Core HX processor lineup includes Core i9, Core i7, and Core i5 SKUs, as shown on the slide below:
The new flagship mobile parts are the Core i9-12950HX and Core i9-12900HX, and while these share the same general performance specs (including the same 8P+8E core configuration), the Core i9-12950HX features vPro and ECC memory support, while the Core i9-12900HX does not. I expect the latter to end up in high-end gaming laptops, with the former more of a professional workstation solution.
All of the new 12th Gen Intel Core HX processors have a Processor Base Power of 55 W, and a Max Turbo Power of 157 W. That is not a typo. 157 watts in a mobile processor. These really are desktop-class CPUs!
And take note: Intel says that these new HX processors are “unlocked out of the box”, so you can push them even further! I expect some gargantuan gaming laptop design to do just that – though of course the target market with these is, as the slides above and below this paragraph indicate, mobile workstations.
As to OEM partners and availability, Intel states that “more than 10 workstation and gaming designs powered by 12th Gen Intel Core HX processors are expected to be launched by major OEMs this year, including systems from Dell, HP, Lenovo and others”.
It wouldn’t be a processor product announcement without some performance charts based on internal benchmarks, with a four such slides from the press kit presented in the gallery below:
For disclosures on the configurations used in the above tests you can visit Intel’s Performance Index site (linked here).
Despite of obvious architectural advancements from 11th Gen to 12th Gen, I think it’s certainly worth noting that a processor that can draw up to 157 watts, however briefly, will have a distinct advantage over one which cannot. And yes, I know that 11th Gen mobile parts could consume far more than their rated power for a short duration, but even the Core i9-11980HK in the Beast Canyon NUC is limited (by default) to 108 watts for a few seconds.
I am very curious to check out one of these new workstation systems, and see what sort of thermal and power-related decisions end up being made when integrating this new high-performance Intel HX platform.