Look out AMD – Intel Raptor Lake CPUs could launch sooner than expected

A raptor next to an Intel Core i9 CPU
(Image credit: Intel / Balint Benke)

Intel’s Raptor Lake processors have popped up in a fresh driver release which offers a hint that we may see these next-gen CPUs before too long.

As VideoCardz reports, support for Raptor Lake-S and P processors has been added to the new Intel Media Driver release (version 22.4.4, which is labeled Q2, even though we’re not in that quarter any longer).

Those designations of CPUs refer to Raptor Lake desktop (S) and laptop processors (P – lower power mobile chips), and it’s interesting to see support for the latter, because thus far the rumor mill has been relatively quiet about what to expect from Intel’s incoming 13th-gen range on the mobile front.

The broad expectation – partly due to that lack of buzz on the grapevine – is that the laptop models may launch a fair bit later for Raptor Lake, with the desktop chips coming first.

Analysis: AMD in danger of being left behind?

As you may be aware, the most recent rumors have pointed to an October launch for Raptor Lake. We’ve been wondering whether Intel might feel the urge to pull the trigger for the release of 13th-gen processors slightly earlier than this, as previous rumors had indicated that September could be the month to watch for Raptor Lake silicon to be loosed.

The fact that we’re seeing Raptor Lake pop up in driver references now is at least a suggestion that the launch could be closer than expected, but what also makes us wonder about 13th-gen chips turning up sooner rather than later is what we’ve heard about the following generation.

Intel’s Meteor Lake processors appear to be staying on track for what could be an initial Q2 2023 debut, and given that, we’d think that the chip giant would want to leave a decent amount of breathing space between the 13th and 14th-generations. So, pushing out Raptor Lake later in 2022 seems a less likely prospect in that regard.

Of course, this is all speculation built on rumors, so take it as such – with a skeptical view.

Another way to look at this is – why would Intel not want to push ahead with Raptor Lake, if possible? If Team Blue can indeed spring the 13th-gen chips earlier, and get the drop on AMD’s next-gen Zen 4 CPUs – as we’ve also heard Team Red could potentially be holding these back to allow for Ryzen 5000 stock to sell through – that’s going to look like quite a punishing victory in the desktop processor space.

Remember, AMD is still relying on those Ryzen 5000 CPUs which were first launched coming on for two years ago now – and Alder Lake has already muscled past that silicon, certainly as popular picks for gamers, so Raptor Lake would absolutely seal Intel’s advantage in this respect. (Yes, we’re not forgetting that Team Red did bring in 3D V-Cache tech, which is undoubtedly impressive, but it’s just one model of processor – the 5800X3D – and so has a limited impact across the whole CPU arena).

AMD could be in serious bother, for our money, if Raptor Lake beats Zen 4 to the punch launch-wise, and Meteor Lake is not that far off either – even 3D V-Cache-toting Ryzen 7000 CPUs, which are rumored to be some way down the line from the initial Zen 4 debut, are unlikely to be able to save AMD against Intel’s dropped-down-to-7nm 14th-gen models. Granted, Zen 4 is shaping up to be very strong, so maybe we’ll be surprised on that score – but as things stand right now, it feels like a rather uncomfortable battle of launch timeframes for AMD.

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).