Golden Cove

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Golden Cove
General information
LaunchedNovember 4, 2021; 2 years ago (November 4, 2021)[1]
Designed byIntel
Common manufacturer(s)
Max. CPU clock rate1.0 GHz to 5.5 GHz
L1 cache80 KB per core:
  • 32 KB instructions
  • 48 KB data
L2 cachePer core:
  • 1.25 MB (client)
  • 2 MB (server)
L3 cache3 MB per core
Architecture and classification
Technology nodeIntel 7 (previously known as 10ESF)
Instruction setx86, x86-64
Products, models, variants
Product code name(s)
Successor(s)Raptor Cove

Golden Cove is a codename for a CPU microarchitecture developed by Intel and released in November 2021. It succeeds four microarchitectures: Sunny Cove, Skylake, Willow Cove, and Cypress Cove.[2][3][4] It is fabricated using Intel's Intel 7 process node, previously referred to as 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin (10ESF).

The microarchitecture is used in the high-performance cores (P-core) of the 12th-generation Intel Core processors (codenamed "Alder Lake") and fourth-generation Xeon Scalable server processors (codenamed "Sapphire Rapids").[4][5]

History and features[edit]

Intel first unveiled Golden Cove during their Architecture Day 2020,[6] with further details released at the same event in August 2021.[7] Similar to Skylake, Golden Cove was described by Intel as a major update to the core microarchitecture, with Intel stating that it would "allow performance for the next decade of compute". Intel also described Golden Cove as the largest microarchitectural upgrade to the Core family in a decade, touting a 19% increase in instructions per cycle (IPC) over Cypress Cove.[7] At the event in 2021, Intel revealed the Gracemont and Golden Cove architectures would both be bundled in a hybrid architecture into its Alder Lake CPUs for desktops and laptops. It was described as "the successor to Intel's 10-nm Sunny Cove microarchitecture."[8] It was also announced that the Golden Cove cores would support hyper-threading, which allows two threads to run on one core.[9] "P-cores" based on Golden Cove stand for "performance", while "E-cores" based on Gracemont stand for "efficient."[10]

In August 2021, Golden Cove design followed "the Willow Cove core in Tiger Lake, the Sunny Cove core in Ice Lake, and the derivative Cypress Cove core in Rocket Lake."[11]

Succeeding Willow Cove, in 2021 the Golden Cove was described as competing against AMD's Zen 3 and Zen 4-based processors. Golden Cove is based on the 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin node by Intel, which was later renamed to Intel 7.[12] When modifying Willow Cove, writes Hardware Times, Intel announced in 2021 that both Golden Cove and Gracemont "expanded the back and front-end, improved the out-of-order execution (OoO) capabilities, and focused more on power efficiency and real-world performance."[12]

In January 2022, TechRadar noted that the upcoming Intel Alder Lake-P processors, mobile variants of Alder Lake with Golden Cove, could possibly use up to "six Golden Cove cores with 12 threads alongside eight Gracemont cores with eight threads," noting other permutations were also possible.[13] In April 2022, it was reported that Raptor Lake, a "refresh" of Alder Lake, might utilize the Golden Cove and Gracemont cores.[14] It was also reported in April 2022 that Sapphire Rapids would utilize Golden Cove cores.[15]


According to AnandTech in August 2021, "Intel sees the Golden Cove as a major step-function update, with massive revamps of the fundamental building blocks of the CPU, going as far as calling it as allowing performance for the next decade of compute.[11] AnandTech in August 2021 also wrote that the last similar level of upgrades to Intel's "core front-end" was Sunny Cove, as compared to Willow Cove and Cypress Cove, which unlike Golden Cove "were more iterative designs focusing on the memory subsystem." Golden Cove was described as having "gigantic changes to the microarchitecture’s front-end", with Intel describing those changes as the largest upgrades to microarchitecture in a decade, since Skylake.[11]

The P-core Golden Cove microarchitecture supports six-wide decode, higher than the prior four, and has split the execution ports to allow for more operations to execute at once, enabling higher IPC and ILP from workflow that can take advantage. Usually a wider decode consumes a lot more power, but Intel says that its micro-op cache (now 4K) and front-end are improved enough that the decode engine spends 80% of its time power gated."[16]

Intel describes a number of improvements over its predecessor, Sunny Cove.

  • New 6-wide partial instruction decoder (from 4-wide in previous microarchitectures) with the ability to fetch up to 32 bytes of instructions per cycle (from 16)[7]
  • Wider 6-wide microarchitecture but removed complex decoder (compared to previous 5-wide 4:1:1:1:1 design)
  • μOP cache size increased to 4K entries (up from 2.25K)
  • 12 execution ports (up from 10)[7]
  • Larger out-of-order instruction window compared to Sunny Cove, with the re-order buffer (ROB) size increased from 352 to 512 entries
  • Larger vector/floating-point register file, which was increased from 224 to 332 entries[17]
  • 192 load and 114 store queues (from 128 and 72 in Sunny Cove)[17]
  • 1.25 MB per core L2 cache size for consumer processors and 2 MiB per core for server variants
  • Dedicated floating-point adders
  • New instruction set extensions:[18]
    • User-mode wait (WAITPKG): TPAUSE, UMONITOR, UMWAIT
    • Architectural last branch records (LBRs)
    • Hypervisor-managed linear address translation (HLAT)
    • Enhanced Hardware Feedback Interface (EHFI) and HRESET
    • AVX-VNNI
    • AVX-512 with AVX512-FP16
    • In server Sapphire Rapids CPUs:


The microarchitecture is used in the high-performance cores of the 12th generation of Intel Core hybrid processors (codenamed "Alder Lake") and the fourth generation of Xeon scalable processors (codenamed "Sapphire Rapids").

Raptor Cove[edit]

Raptor Cove
General information
LaunchedOctober 22, 2022; 13 months ago (2022-10-22)
Marketed byIntel
Designed byIntel
Common manufacturer(s)
Max. CPU clock rateto 6.0 GHz
L1 cache80 KB per core:
  • 32 KB instructions
  • 48 KB data
L2 cache2 MB per core
L3 cache3 MB per core
Architecture and classification
Technology nodeIntel 7 (previously known as 10ESF)
Instruction setx86, x86-64
Physical specifications
  • 1-8
Products, models, variants
Product code name(s)
Predecessor(s)Golden Cove
Successor(s)Redwood Cove

Raptor Cove, released on October 20, 2022 with Raptor Lake processors, is a refresh of the Golden Cove microarchitecture with the following changes:

  • Boost frequency up to 6.0 GHz
  • 2 MB L2 cache,[19] up from 1.25 MB on the mainstream desktop variant of Golden Cove. The server variant of the previous Golden Cove core already had 2 MB L2 cache per core.
  • New dynamic prefetch algorithm

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cutress, Ian (October 27, 2021). "Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake for Desktops: Top SKUs Only, Coming November 4th". AnandTech. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  2. ^ Dexter, Alan (April 6, 2021). "Intel Alder Lake CPUs: What are they, when will they launch, and how fast will they be?". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  3. ^ Mujtaba, Hassan (May 21, 2019). "Intel Xeon Roadmap Leak, 10nm Ice Lake, Sapphire Rapids CPU Detailed". Wccftech. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Shilov, Anton (27 October 2020). "Intel: Alder Lake Sampling, Sapphire Rapids Samples in Q4". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  5. ^ Pirzada, Usman (October 7, 2020). "Intel Sapphire Rapids: MCM Design, 56 Golden Cove Cores, 64GB HBM2 On-Board Memory, Massive IPC Improvement and 400 Watt TDP". Wccftech. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Cutress, Ian (August 14, 2020). "Intel Alder Lake: Confirmed x86 Hybrid with Golden Cove and Gracemont for 2021". AnandTech. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Cutress, Ian; Frumusanu, Andrei (August 19, 2021). "Intel Architecture Day 2021: Alder Lake, Golden Cove, and Gracemont Detailed". AnandTech. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Morra, James (August 25, 2021). "Intel Enters New Era With Golden Cove and Gracemont Cores". Electronic Design. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  9. ^ Alcorn, Paul (19 August 2021). "Intel Architecture Day 2021: Alder Lake Chips, Golden Cove and Gracemont Cores". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  10. ^ Stobing, Chris (November 4, 2021). "Intel Core i9-12900K Review". PCMag. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Cutress, Ian; Frumusanu, Andrew (August 19, 2021). "Intel Architecture Day 2021: Alder Lake, Golden Cove, and Gracemont Detailed". AnandTech. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Intel Golden Cove Core Architecture Deep Dive: vs Zen 3 and Sunny Cove". Hardware Times. November 8, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  13. ^ Loeffler, John (January 28, 2022). "Intel Alder Lake Release Date - Specs and Price, Everything We Know". TechRadar. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Nguyen, Chuong (April 18, 2022). "Intel Raptor Lake CPUs: Everything we know about the 13th-gen processors". Digital Trends. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  15. ^ Spadafora, Anthony (April 19, 2022). "Intel Sapphire Rapids leak offers sneak peek at specs and performance". TechRadar. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  16. ^ Cutress, Ian; Frumusanu, Andrew (November 4, 2021). "The Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K Review: Hybrid Performance Brings Hybrid Complexity". AnandTech. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Popping the Hood on Golden Cove". Chips and Cheese. December 2, 2021. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  18. ^ "Intel® Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features: Programming Reference" (PDF). Intel. September 2022. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  19. ^ "Intel 13th Gen Core "Raptor Lake" Desktop Processors Launched: +15% ST, +41% MT Uplift". TechPowerUp. September 27, 2022. Retrieved November 27, 2022.