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Intel’s 13th-gen “Raptor Lake” CPUs are official, launch October 20

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Enlarge / An overview of the improvements coming to Intel’s 13th-gen desktop chips.

Intel

If there’s one thing Intel has gotten good at in the last few years, it’s refining a CPU architecture. Between 2015 and 2020, manufacturing troubles pushed Intel to release not one, not two, but five processor generations based on iterations of the sixth-gen Skylake core, while still managing to increase clock speeds and core counts enough to stay competitive through most of that timespan.

It’s an approach Intel is returning to for its 13th-generation Core CPUs, the first of which are being officially announced today. Codenamed Raptor Lake, Intel says it has made some improvements to the CPU architecture and the Intel 7 manufacturing process, but the strategy for improving their performance is both time-tested and easy to understand: add more cores, and make them run at higher clock speeds.

Intel is announcing three new CPUs today, each with and without integrated graphics (per usual, the models with no GPUs have an “F” at the end): the Core i9-13900K, Core i7-13700K, and Core i5-13600K will launch on October 20 alongside new Z790 chipsets and motherboards. They will also work in all current-generation 600-series motherboards as long as your motherboard maker has provided a BIOS update, and will continue to support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory.

Raptor Lake uses the hybrid architecture that Intel introduced in its 12th-generation Alder Lake chips last year—a combination of large performance cores (P-cores) that keep games and other performance-sensitive applications running quickly, plus clusters of smaller efficiency cores (E-cores) that use less power—though in our testing across laptops and desktops, it’s clear that “efficiency” is more about the number of cores can be fit into a given area on a CPU die, and less about lower overall system power consumption.

There have been a handful of other additions as well. The amount of L2 cache per core has been nearly doubled, going from 1.25MB to 2MB per P-core and from 2MB to 4MB per E-core cluster (E-cores always come in clusters of four). The CPUs will officially support DDR5-5600 RAM, up from a current maximum of DDR5-4800, though that DDR5-4800 maximum can easily be surpassed with XMP memory kits in 12th-generation motherboards.

The maximum officially supported DDR4 RAM speed remains DDR4-3200, though the caveat about XMP applies there as well.

Extra cache, faster memory speeds, and boosted clock speed are responsible for the single-threaded performance gains for the i9-13900K. Additional E-cores make the multi-core improvements much more significant.
Enlarge / Extra cache, faster memory speeds, and boosted clock speed are responsible for the single-threaded performance gains for the i9-13900K. Additional E-cores make the multi-core improvements much more significant.

Intel

As far as core counts and frequencies go, the Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs each pick up one extra E-core cluster, going from four E-cores to eight. The Core i9 gets two new E-core clusters, boosting the core count from eight all the way up to 16. All E-cores have maximum boost clocks that are 400MHz higher than they were before. P-core count stays the same across the lineup, but the maximum boost clock has been increased by 600MHz, 400MHz, and 200MHz for the Core i9, i7, and i5, respectively. As K-series chips, these are all unlocked for overclocking when used with Z690 or Z790 motherboards.

Launch pricing is going up by $30 for the Core i5 models, but staying level for the other two. As usual, Intel doesn’t include any CPU coolers with K- or KF-series chips. Here’s how each CPU stacks up to its predecessor:

CPU Launch MSRP P/E-cores Clocks (Base/Boost) Total cache (L2+L3) Base/Max Power
Core i9-13900K $589
$564 (F)
8P/16E 3.0/5.8 GHz (P)
2.2/4.3 GHz (E)
68MB (32 + 36) 125/253 W
Core i9-12900K $589
$564 (F)
8P/8E 3.2/5.2 GHz (P)
2.4/3.9 GHz (E)
34MB (14 + 30) 125/241 W
Core i7-13700K $409
$384 (F)
8P/8E 3.4/5.4 GHz (P)
2.5/4.2 GHz (E)
54 MB (24 + 30) 125/253 W
Core i7-12700K $490
$384 (F)
8P/4E 3.6/5.0 GHz (P)
2.7/3.8 GHz (E)
37 MB (12 + 25) 125/190 W
Core i5-13600K $319
$294 (F)
6P/8E 3.5/5.1 GHz (P)
2.6/3.9 GHz (E)
44 MB (24 + 20) 125/181 W
Core i5-12600K $289
$264 (F)
6P/4E 3.7/4.9 GHz (P)
2.8/3.6 GHz (E)
29.5 MB (9.5 + 20) 125/150 W

According to Intel, all of the changes together will boost the i9-13900K’s single-threaded performance by around 15 percent, with most of the improvement attributable to P-core clock speed increases. That’s short of the 29 percent AMD accomplished across the lineup with its Zen 4 chips, and it will be lower for the i7 and the i5. But it’s reasonably respectable for a year-over-year increase. Multi-threaded performance is where you’ll see the biggest gains, with the added cache, boosted clock speeds, and increased E-core counts all coming together to improve the i9-13900K’s performance by 41 percent compared to the i9-12900K (though, again, that number may be less impressive for the i7 and i5).

Since the manufacturing process is, at best, only improving modestly, the price you’ll pay for the extra clock speed and core counts is higher power usage. Intel is keeping the base power of these 13th-gen CPUs unchanged at 125 W, but the Maximum Turbo Power numbers have gone up quite a bit—the Core i9-13900K’s 253 W maximum is the maximum amount of power officially supported by the LGA1700 socket, though it’s possible that some high-end motherboards could let it go even higher.

The i9-13900K can be quite power-efficient compared to the i9-12900K, though its default configuration allows for higher power use overall.
Enlarge / The i9-13900K can be quite power-efficient compared to the i9-12900K, though its default configuration allows for higher power use overall.

Intel

But that doesn’t mean Intel is throwing power efficiency entirely out the window, either. When restricted to a 65 W base power, Intel says that the improvements to Raptor Lake will allow the chips to run multi-threaded workloads just as quickly as a Core i9-12900K running at 241 W. As has become the norm for these kinds of high-end parts, they will default to fast performance with high power usage, but users can rein them in if they want.

As for the accompanying Z790 chipset, it has a few improvements over the previous-generation Z690, but is likely nothing worth upgrading for if you’re already using a 600-series motherboard you like. The chipset now sports a total of 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes for SSDs and other accessories, plus eight PCIe 8.0 lanes—Z690 has 12 PCIe 4.0 lanes and 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, so clearly Intel is just shifting the balance in the direction of the faster interconnect. Z790 also supports one additional 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, for a total of five, and removes support for basic USB 2.0 ports entirely. The platform’s PCIe 5.0 lanes for GPUs and next-gen SSDs are still built into the processor, not the chipset itself.

The Z790 chipset has more PCIe 4.0 lanes and 20Gbps USB ports than Z690. But if you have a 600-series motherboard you already like, it will probably get a BIOS update allowing it to support 13th-gen CPUs, and none of the improvements to Z790 are worth an additional purchase.
Enlarge / The Z790 chipset has more PCIe 4.0 lanes and 20Gbps USB ports than Z690. But if you have a 600-series motherboard you already like, it will probably get a BIOS update allowing it to support 13th-gen CPUs, and none of the improvements to Z790 are worth an additional purchase.

Intel

Intel didn’t announce any other 13th-generation CPU models today, but it teased that the standard range of chips would be following in the coming months—lower-wattage, lower-cost desktop parts, as well as laptop CPUs designed for everything from thin-and-light ultrabooks to bulky LED-festooned gaming laptops. Intel says that we can expect other desktop CPUs in the lineup to get more E-cores, too, something that previous rumors had already suggested. We’d expect to learn more about these chips at CES in January.

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Apple Watch Ultra becomes a diving computer with launch of Oceanic+

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In September, Apple announced a new wearable called the Apple Watch Ultra, and one of the company’s key pitches for the device was its use as a diving computer. Now Oceanic+, the app that makes that feature possible, launched exclusively for the Ultra, Apple announced today.

The Watch Ultra has depth gauge and water temperature sensors that drive some of the features in the app. To access a few of those features—such as decompression tracking—you’ll have to subscribe to the app’s premium version for $4.99 per day, $9.99 per month, or $79.99 per year. There’s also a family plan at $129.99 annually. If you don’t subscribe, you can still use some key features like dive logs, depth tracking, and so on.

The app—which was developed in partnership with Apple by a company called Huish Outdoors, lets you track dive conditions like tides, water temperature, and more. Here’s a quick summary from Apple’s blog post announcement:

In the dive planner, users can set their surface time, their depth, and their gas, and Oceanic+ will calculate their No Deco (no-decompression) time—a metric used to determine a time limit for a diver at a certain depth. The planner also integrates dive conditions, including tides, water temperature, and even up-to-date information from the community, such as visibility and currents. Post-dive, users will see data—including GPS entry and exit locations—automatically pop up on Apple Watch Ultra, along with a summary of their dive profile. The summary on the Oceanic+ iPhone app provides additional information, including a map of entry and exit locations, as well as graphs of depth, temperature ascent rate, and no-decompression limit.

A lot of the features focus on either planning dives in advance or viewing dive reports after you’re done, but for those that you use underwater, the app utilizes haptics to send you alerts. The Watch Ultra’s very bright screen can help with legibility underwater, too.

The app doesn’t work with other Apple Watch models. To use it, you’ll need an Apple Watch running watchOS 9.1, and that Watch must be paired with an iPhone 8 or later running iOS 16.1.

Listing image by Samuel Axon

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Regulatory filings suggest Nvidia’s scrapped RTX 4080 will return as the “4070 Ti”

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Nvidia

Last month, Nvidia took the unusual step of “unlaunching” a previously announced product. The 12GB version of the GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card was, by the company’s admission, “not named right” and was delayed and rebranded to avoid confusion with the 16GB version of the RTX 4080 that launched. Besides having less RAM, the 12GB version of the RTX 4080 also offered less memory bandwidth and fewer GPU cores than the 16GB version.

Nvidia didn’t announce exactly what branding it would use for the revived RTX 4080, but regulatory filings submitted by Gigabyte (as reported by VideoCardz) suggest that the company has settled on calling it the “4070 Ti.”

This isn’t guaranteed to be the actual name—regulatory filings like this can be placeholders rather than actual products—but this branding would be more consistent with how Nvidia has named past GPU generations. The xx80 cards usually use the same physical GPU die as the flagship xx90 cards but run at lower clock speeds and with parts of the die switched off; this allows Nvidia to use GPU dies with defects rather than tossing them out. The xx70 cards generally use a smaller, less-performant GPU die based on the same architecture.

Nvidia made the rebranding decision late enough in the process that it reportedly caused Nvidia and its partners to throw out finished packaging and other elements with “4080” branding. Redesigning and then re-manufacturing those things takes time, as does re-flashing the BIOSes on already-manufactured graphics cards so that they identify themselves as 4070 Tis rather than 4080s.

Nvidia still hasn’t said whether the price of the cards would also come down along with the model number; the 12GB version of the RTX 4080 was originally slated to launch for $899, while the RTX 3070 Ti was originally launched at $599. But existing RTX 4090 and 4080 cards are already difficult to get anywhere near their already-high $1,600 and $1,200 starting prices. It may be that an RTX 4070 Ti with decent 4K gaming performance, DLSS 3 support, and the other RTX 4000-series architectural bells and whistles would still sell out even with a big generation-over-generation price hike.

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Google says Google should do a better job of patching Android phones

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Google’s “Project Zero” team of security analysts wants to rid the world of zero-day security vulnerabilities, and that means it spends time calling out slacking companies on its blog. The group’s latest post is a bit of friendly fire aimed at the Android and Pixel teams, which Project Zero says aren’t dealing with bugs in the ARM GPU driver quickly enough.

In June, Project Zero researcher Maddie Stone detailed an in-the-wild exploit for the Pixel 6, where bugs in the ARM GPU driver could let a non-privileged user get write access to read-only memory. Another Project Zero researcher, Jann Horn, spent the next three weeks finding related vulnerabilities in the driver. The post says these bugs could allow “an attacker with native code execution in an app context [to] gain full access to the system, bypassing Android’s permissions model and allowing broad access to user data.”

Project Zero says it reported these issues to ARM “between June and July 2022” and that ARM fixed the issues “promptly” in July and August, issuing a security bulletin (CVE-2022-36449) and publishing fixed source code. But these actively exploited vulnerabilities haven’t been patched for users. The groups dropping the ball are apparently Google and various Android OEMs, as Project Zero says that months after ARM fixed the vulnerabilities, “all of our test devices which used Mali are still vulnerable to these issues. CVE-2022-36449 is not mentioned in any downstream security bulletins.”

The affected ARM GPUs include a long list of the past three generations of ARM GPU architectures (Midgard, Bifrost, and Valhall), ranging from currently shipping devices to phones from 2016. ARM’s GPUs aren’t used by Qualcomm chips, but Google’s Tensor SoC uses ARM GPUs in the Pixel 6, 6a, and 7, and Samsung’s Exynos SoC uses ARM GPUs for its midrange phones and older international flagships like the Galaxy S21 (just not the Galaxy S22). Mediatek’s SoCs are all ARM GPU users, too, so we’re talking about millions of vulnerable Android phones from just about every Android OEM.

In response to the Project Zero blog post, Google told Engadget, “The fix provided by Arm is currently undergoing testing for Android and Pixel devices and will be delivered in the coming weeks. Android OEM partners will be required to take the patch to comply with future SPL requirements.”

The Project Zero analysts end their blog post with some advice for their colleagues, saying, “Just as users are recommended to patch as quickly as they can once a release containing security updates is available, so the same applies to vendors and companies. Minimizing the ‘patch gap’ as a vendor in these scenarios is arguably more important, as end users (or other vendors downstream) are blocking on this action before they can receive the security benefits of the patch. Companies need to remain vigilant, follow upstream sources closely, and do their best to provide complete patches to users as soon as possible.”

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