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Rocket Lake CPUs Were Green Lit Before Competition With AMD Became So Heated

(Credit: Intel)

If you’re questioning why Intel’s not-so impressive Rocket Lake CPUs even exist, know the company actually green lit the processors two years ago—when the chip maker was facing less competition from rival AMD. 

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything, Intel revealed it began official work on its Rocket Lake CPUs in the first quarter of 2019. The “product concept” stage for Rocket Lake closed during that period, according to Intel’s marketing staffer Alejandro Hoyos, meaning the processor’s features including the cores, were all defined. 

The company was then able to launch Rocket Lake as Intel’s new 11th generation Core desktop processors two years later. However, the flagship product, the Core i9-11900K, has received some mediocre to downright dismal reviews amid this week’s official product launch. PCMag itself recommends you check out AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs or even Intel’s older 10th generation Core chips before buying. 

A Rocket Lake CPU

Credit: Intel

The CPU design process usually takes years to translate from blueprints to actual silicon. So the two-year turnaround for Rocket Lake isn’t a surprise. But it goes to show that Intel was banking on its 14-nanometer manufacturing process remaining competitive by 2021, amid its delays to get its 10nm process up and running. 

However, Intel probably didn’t realize AMD would present serious competition. PCWorld notes that Rocket Lake CPUs were green lit months before rival AMD began moving to its own 7nm manufacturing process with the Ryzen 3000 processors, which were released that same year and went on to receive favorable reviews. 

Not all the Rocket Lake CPUs have been lackluster, though. We gave an “Excellent” score to the $269 Core i5-11600K for its strong, single-thread performance and aggressive pricing. However, PC builders may want to hold off from purchasing any Intel CPUs. The company plans on launching its “Alder Lake” desktop processors later this year, and they’ll use a 10nm manufacturing process for what might result in some impressive performance gains.

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