Intel Alder Lake continues use of memory gears

Posted on Friday, May 07 2021 @ 10:49 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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The changelog of the latest version of the HWInfo64 utility reveals Intel will continue to use a gear mode for the memory controller of the upcoming Alder Lake processors. Alder Lake is the next big thing from Intel, it's a 10nm architecture that will be used for both the mobile and the desktop market. There are several novelties here, besides being the first mass-market x86 implementation of a hybrid architecture with high-performance and energy-efficient cores, Alder Lake will also introduce DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0 support.

With the launch of Rocket Lake-S, Intel started using gear modes on its memory controller. The idea here is that in Gear 1, the memory controller operates at the same frequency as the system memory, using a 1:1 ratio. This offers the lowest possible memory latency. In Gear 2 on the other hand, the memory controller runs at half the frequency of the memory, resulting in a 2:1 ratio. This allows the memory to achieve a much higher frequency -- at the expense of latency.

Tom's Hardware speculates the memory gears could start playing a much bigger role once DDR5 hits the market. At the moment, it's still too early to speculate about the implications here. But we could see more higher frequencies in situations where this is more important than low latency.
What we don't know yet is how gears will be implemented on Alder Lake. Intel could be upgrading the memory controller on Alder Lake, which would change the capabilities of each gear ratio. Or Intel might be using the same controller found on current Rocket Lake CPUs, we really don't know at this time. -- Tom's Hardware
Alder Lake is scheduled to arrive before the end of this year.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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