After AMD has had to deal with the L3 cache latency issue under Windows 11, Intel goes and runs into an even bigger issue that has to do with “about to be released” Intel Core 12 and Denuvo, the most used DRM in PC games and that could mean that many titles do not work or do so with performance losses.
The Alder Lake architecture is not the first in which Intel is committed to a heterogeneous configuration of two types of cores: on the one hand, some designed for energy efficiency and on the other, those designed under gross performance. Since we already saw the experiment in the Lakefields (in Windows, as opposed to what happens in smartphones, where it started with both types of cores operating in a switched way to save battery and then combine) these types of configurations have not been used to large scale as will happen with the Intel Core 12.
Intel Core 12s get on badly with DRM
If you ask any fan of PC games what they think of Denuvo, they will immediately utter a number of not elegant expletives and it is that this DRM system consumes CPU resources to unsuspected levels (not in all cases it is true) making the performance of many video games in their computer version worse than in console despite the superiority of their hardware.
Well, apparently Denuvo does not get along with the hybrid or heterogeneous core configuration of the Alder Lake-S architecture, which has led Intel to publish a guide for game developers who want to optimize titles for Intel. Core 12, where in the middle of it you can read the following:
If your existing or new game makes use of a DRM middleware, you should contact the vendor of the same and confirm that it supports hybrid architectures in general and the Intel ADL platform in particular. Due to the nature of DRM algorithms the game should use CPU detection and be on the lookout for upcoming hybrid platforms. Intel is working with DRM vendors like Denuvo to make sure their solutions support the new platforms.
This not only affects Denuvo but also other DRM systems such as VMprotect or SecuROM. Which has created the narrative that old games will not be able to run on Intel’s newer processors, something that cannot be assured since it has not been proven.
What are the causes?
When you have a system of heterogeneous cores, the important thing is how the processes are assigned to the different existing cores and you are not going to be interested at any time that the DRM system makes use of the P-Cores and the game ends in the E-Cores, since the performance cut is considerable and loses all reason to buy an Intel Core 12 as a CPU to play.
The operating system is in charge of the distribution of the processes to the different cores and threads of the CPU, but we do not know if Windows 11 currently incorporates these optimizations in the version that is being distributed. Therefore, if the PC’s OS cannot carry out this distribution of tasks, then it becomes dependent on the application itself. Since these types of configurations are not common on PC, we can already imagine what situation most games are in.
Intel has patents assigned to their name where they speak of automated process management systems from the CPU, but given the problems of the Intel Core 12 with Denuvo and the need to optimize the code of the so popular as infamous DRM for PCs it is clear that Intel part with a lot of disadvantage compared to AMD in games that require such anti-piracy software to work.
Will you lose the battle of gaming in the reviews for this detail? Will analysts have to skip titles to equalize the contest and be fair until there is a solution? The problem of having to port the games, database and hardware to Windows 11 to be able to compare this architecture well, AMD’s problems with L3 and latency and now this, is the data that we are going to see representative of the day? 4? Complicated.