Intel already has an answer to AMD’s 3D V-cache secret weapon CPU

Intel Core i9 Alder Lake CPU in Box
(Image credit: Intel)

At CES 2022, Intel has confirmed that it’s going to spring a supercharged version of the Alder Lake flagship desktop CPU on the world, and it’ll ship by the end of Q1 2022.

Previously, a leak had pointed to the existence of the Core i9-12900KS last month, and then Team Blue dropped a teaser (on Twitter) of a CPU that’d be capable of boost up to 5.5GHz – but now the chip has been announced.

This faster spin on the existing Core i9-12900K was detailed during Intel’s many CES 2022 revelations, with the 12900KS confirmed to boost up to 5.5GHz – on one performance core, mind. The all-core boost is 5.2GHz, with Intel claiming that the CPU is capable of sustaining 5GHz speeds across every performance core long-term. (As we’ve pointed out in the past, at stock clocks, the 12900K generally sits around 4.85GHz to 4.9GHz across all cores, at least going by measurements in reviews).

As PC Gamer reports, Intel demonstrated the Core i9-12900KS running Hitman 3 with HWiNFO showing the 8 performance cores ticking along at 5.2GHz, with the efficiency cores at 4GHz (the latter is 100MHz faster than the vanilla 12900K).

As mentioned at the outset, the processor will ship by the time Q1 comes to a close, meaning March presumably (or perhaps earlier if we’re lucky).

Analysis: CPU refresh wars – Intel’s answer to AMD’s 3D V-cache

This looks like a good boost for the 12900K, and the ‘KS’ flagship chip – essentially a pre-binned (high-quality) 12900K capable of being pushed to faster clock speeds – is a leaf out of Intel’s traditional playbook for keeping a generation of silicon powered up going forward. That said, note that we haven’t seen such a variant since the Core i9-9900KS, which was two years ago (neither 10th or 11th-gen chips got the KS treatment).

In this case, Intel probably felt the need to push for a power boost given that AMD just announced its Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor at CES, the first chip to use Team Red’s 3D V-cache tech to boost performance further with that 8-core CPU.

Tellingly, AMD claimed at CES that the 5800X3D will be able to outperform the 12900K – a pretty broad statement, of course, as relative frame rates will obviously vary from game to game, and we’ll need to test these chips ourselves of course. Internal testing of a processor by its maker always needs to be treated with caution, as it tends to paint the best possible picture for obvious reasons when it comes to a CPU’s big reveal.

AMD insisted that the 5800X3D is the ‘fastest gaming CPU in the world’ and it’s out in spring 2022, so with the Core i9-12900KS arriving perhaps at the same time – maybe just before the Ryzen offering – we’ll have a shootout between these new top-end processors before too long.

Realistically, though, if you’re running either of them, you’re not going to be disappointed with the performance provided, and they will likely be in very close proximity to each other in terms of gaming frame rates.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).