Intel's Alder Lake chip pushes performance, then battery life, for laptops

Alder Lake is bringing performance that the prior Lakefield generation lacked.

Credit: Martyn Williams/IDG

Intel’s Alder Lake chip will build upon its predecessor, the first hybrid core known as Lakefield, by prioritizing performance over battery life for thin-and-light laptops, small-form-factor PCs, and other compact designs. Announced Thursday as part of Intel Architecture Day, the chip will be available in 2021.

Alder Lake's performance focus fills an unmet need in the prior generation, Lakefield, which Intel unveiled about a year ago. At the time, the company talked about using its Foveros technology to stack a “compute” die on top of a “base” die, saving space for small-form-factor PCs. But Lakefield also steals a page from rival Arm processors, combining four low-power “Tremont” Atom cores for low-intensity tasks, with a single “Sunny Cove” Core CPU for heavier burdens. Lakefield quietly debuted in a version of Samsung’s Galaxy Book S, under the discreetly bland description of “Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology.”  

Samsung galaxy book s mercury gray Samsung

The “Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology,” or Lakefield, ended up in the Samsung Galaxy Book S, an ultralight PC weighing just 2.09 pounds.

Unfortunately, what Lakefield gained in power reduction, it apparently lost in performance—early reviews of the Galaxy Book S were decidedly underwhelming. Intel's Raja Koduri (senior vice president, chief architect, and general manager of Architecture, Graphics, and Software) maintained a positive spin at Architecture Day: “Our goal with this architecture was to enable world-class battery life while maintaining snappy responsiveness that users expect from Intel processors.” 

With Alder Lake, Intel has evolved its strategy. "We are advancing our hybrid architecture significantly with a focus on performance," Koduri said.

alder lake roadmap intel Intel

Intel calls Alder Lake a "performance hybrid."

Alder Lake will combine an unknown number of performance-oriented Golden Cove cores (similar to Lakefield's Sunny Cove), with an equally unknown number of low-power Gracemont cores (successor to Lakefield's Tremont cores), with more emphasis on performance. 

Koduri noted that an important part of Lakefield’s design was working with operating system vendors to develop hardware-guided schedulers that offered the best mix of hardware responsiveness and battery life. Intel hopes to capitalize upon this further with Alder Lake by developing a “next-generation” hardware-guided scheduler to leverage all cores seamlessly.

lakefield Intel performance Intel

Intel improved Lakefield not just by hardware, but via software optimizations as well.

“Alder Lake will not [just] be great for performance, but it will be our best performance-per-watt architecture,” Koduri said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?