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Intel reportedly prepping refresh of Raptor Lake Refresh, no really

 Intel Core i9 14900K CPU on a box and inside a motherboard socket.
Intel Core i9 14900K CPU on a box and inside a motherboard socket.

Intel's Raptor Lake refresh CPUs, including the Core i9 14900K, were fairly underwhelming. Apparently, however, that isn't preventing Intel from spooling up another respin of Raptor Lake for later this year.

First things first, no this doesn't mean that Intel's upcoming Arrow Lake CPUs aren't coming in 2024. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger recently confirmed that Arrow Lake is still go for later this year.

Instead, YouTube channel RedGamingTech claims that Bartlett Lake will be sold alongside Arrow Lake as something of a mainstream offering to Arrow Lake's premium positioning.

Exactly how Intel plans to segment the market between these purported Bartlett Lake chips and Arrow Lake isn't clear beyond Arrow Lake sitting at the top of the stack. But there is one fairly significant upshot. If Bartlett Lake is real, it means that Intel's LGA 1700 socket will live on.

The extent to which that matters will hinge on the specs of these Bartlett Lake chips. If they're all extremely low end, then their existence won't make for much of an upgrade path for owners of existing LGA 1700 motherboards.

However, a fairly full Bartlett Lake lineup would help to keep LGA 1700 systems relevant for longer, which would be thoroughly welcome, what with Arrow Lake moving to the new LGA 1851 socket.

Of course, there is the question of why Intel is doing this at all. It's not unusual for Intel use a few older chips in a given generation to fill in the gaps. The Raptor Lake 13th Gen family, for instance, had a few old Alder Lake chips in the lineup.

However, those were very closely related architectures using the same socket and also built on the same silicon node. Arrow Lake is an all-new chiplet design with a new socket and based at least in part on Intel's new 20A silicon, so this would be something very different altogether.

One possible explanation is that Intel will only have limited capacity to produce Arrow Lake because its CPU cores are being built on the new Intel 20A process. Intel is under a lot of pressure to deliver on its ambitious five-nodes-four-years roadmap. So it could expedient to have the more affordable volume models still based on the old Intel 7 process while Intel 20A ramps up, thereby allowing Intel to hit its roadmap target with a 20A chip on sale this year.

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If so, that doesn't speak volumes for Intel 20A. After all, it will only be used for the CPU cores in Arrow Lake. The other four chiplets, including the I/O and memory controller, will be made by TSMC. So, most of the chiplets in an Arrow Lake CPU package won't be made on Intel 20A.

In that context, if Intel is still struggling to produce enough 20A silicon for Arrow Lake, well, that's not good, is it?

Of course, this is all pretty speculative for now. But we sense this is a case of no smoke without fire. We won't be at all surprised to see Intel reheat Raptor Lake for one more sitting, badged up as Bartlett Lake. After all, we lost count of how many times Intel rebadged its Skylake 14nm chips.

Three spins of Raptor Lake would be nothing compared to the undead zombie offspring of Skylake that were Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Coffee Lake Refresh and Comet Lake. Watch this space. And maybe carry a big stick.