What Is The Difference Between P Core and E Core Processors?

In this article:

  1. What is the difference P core and E core?
  2. E-Core & P-Core Explained
  3. What are the benefits of P Cores and E Core Processors?
  4. How Well Do P-Cores and E-Cores Work Together?
  5. Hybrid CPU Layouts Are the Future

What is the difference P core and E core?

Intel’s latest chips come equipped with a unique blend of two types of CPU cores – E-Cores and P-Cores. This hybrid architecture has been designed to cater to different types of workloads and optimize performance per watt.

The P-cores are similar to traditional CPU designs, with high clock speeds and Hyper-Threading capabilities, while the E-cores are smaller in size and consume significantly less power. Although the E-cores are slower and do not offer Hyper-Threading, they offer a peek into how low-power operations may function in the future of mobile systems.

This integration of CPU cores of varying sizes and capabilities brings together the Performance-cores (P-cores) and Efficient-cores (E-cores), enabling the chips to optimize performance based on the specific requirements of the workload at hand.

Intel’s Alder Lake chips have introduced an innovative architecture that caters to diverse workloads, optimizes performance per watt and offers a glimpse into the future of low-power operation in systems.

E-Core & P-Core Explained

Intel’s 12th Generation processors for fanless embedded computers are now available, but the introduction of ultra-efficient processor cores for background tasks is adding to the confusion of processor shopping. The latest CPUs are following in the footsteps of mobile phones by combining P-Cores and E-Cores on higher-end processors.

What are the benefits of P Cores and E Core Processors?

In the past, all CPU cores in traditional multi-core processors were identical, drawing the same amount of power and performing the same. This posed a problem for devices running on batteries, such as laptops and phones. However, with the introduction of multi-core CPUs with power-hungry and lower-power processor cores, simple tasks can be carried out using less power, allowing for longer battery life.  Intel is taking a page from the smartphone world by adding more efficient cores to their CPUs.

When you’re looking at specifications of the processors, you’ll now see P-Cores and E-Cores:

  1. P-Cores: designed for heavy-duty work and are your standard, high-performance CPU cores.
  2. E-Cores: Ultra-efficient and are used for background tasks that run constantly but don't require much processing power. In simpler terms, P-Cores are the power cores while E-Cores are the efficient ones in the system.

With this hybrid CPU architecture, your P-Cores can tackle heavy tasks while the lower-power E-Cores handle basic background tasks, resulting in a more efficient CPU.

Windows 10 is not yet fully compatible with the new hybrid CPUs, which is a major drawback. Upgrading to Windows 11 is necessary to take full advantage of this technology. In addition, identifying processors with the release of Alder Lake is different. Previous 12-core processors had 12 identical processing cores, but with 12th Gen Intel, CPUs will have notations like 12-core (8+4) or 8P + 4E processors. Another possible notation is 8C4c, indicating 8 powerful cores and 4 smaller, more efficient cores. All three notations refer to a processor with 8 performance cores and 4 efficient cores.

While this is just a glimpse into how P-Core/E-Core technology works and its benefits, Intel’s main objective with E-Cores is to utilize them for background tasks or processes that do not require the full power of the P-Cores. By shifting certain tasks to the lower-powered E-Cores, the computer can conserve energy while still having 8 high-performance cores dedicated to active tasks.

How Well Do P-Cores and E-Cores Work Together?

P-Cores and E-Cores work together quite effectively. According to Intel, P-Cores in 12th Gen chips provide 19% better performance than 11th Gen cores, while E-Cores are not far behind, offering 40% better performance at the same power as the older Skylake chips. This is impressive, considering Skylake was launched in 2015 and is still used in some older gaming computers.

With the Alder Lake hybrid core layout, Intel has regained its position at the top of the CPU performance game, which AMD briefly snatched with its Ryzen 5000 series of CPUs. The new Intel chips not only excel in gaming but also in productivity thanks to the combination of P-Cores and E-Cores. Benchmark tests show that the new Intel chips have impressive single-core and multi-core performance, which is a significant improvement over previous models. AMD is rumored to be developing its own hybrid CPU architecture with the Ryzen 8000 chips, although they will be late to the party compared to Intel’s Alder Lake.

Hybrid CPU Layouts Are the Future

The integration of P-Cores and E-Cores is a ground-breaking development for the x86 architecture and Intel is reaping its benefits in terms of increased core counts and improved performance. While the concept of these hybrid cores isn’t entirely new, their implementation has ushered in a new era in PC technology. These advancements have become one of the most significant milestones in the PC world in recent years, and we’re excited to see how they evolve further.

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