A bunch of new info has been spilled about Intel's future processor ranges by a well-known YouTuber, and we've caught sight of Beast Lake again - potentially highly performant chips that could be specially designed for gaming.
Before we dive into Beast Lake - which is purportedly still a good way down the line - let's look at what's due before this, focusing on the desktop processors, as laid out by Moore's Law is Dead (MLID).
So, as we know, Intel has Raptor Lake Refresh processors to follow current-gen Raptor Lake, landing later this year. Following that, there's Arrow Lake that'll debut late in 2024 (except for the flagship, maybe). After that, things get a bit cloudier, so MLID steps in with his latest theorized release schedule for Intel.
If you've been hearing the name Lunar Lake mentioned and are a little confused about where that fits in, and what it is, this will indeed be the next range after Arrow Lake, but with a catch - it won't be on desktop (MLID says to think of it as being like Ice Lake).
On desktop, it seems the follow-up to Arrow Lake could be... wait for it... Arrow Lake Refresh (late 2025). In other words, Intel may just repeat the Raptor Lake pattern, with a launch, followed by a simple refresh for the next generation of desktop CPUs.
What was previously rumored to come next was Panther Lake, but it seems this may not arrive on desktop. So, a bit like the incoming Meteor Lake and Raptor Lake Refresh ranges, we might get Panther Lake and Arrow Lake Refresh arriving close together. (It is possible Panther Lake could still be on desktop, mind, and the further out we get with these predictions, the wonkier they may be).
After that, Intel is supposedly bringing out Nova Lake. These chips could pitch up as early as around the middle of 2026 - though they could slide to 2027, equally - and on desktop, they might still use the same socket as Arrow Lake.
And, down the line after that - this is when Beast Lake could come into play, perhaps in 2027. This could either be the generation to follow Nova Lake, or MLID speculates that these CPUs might just end up as a variant of Nova specifically designed for gamers. Sort of like Intel's X3D equivalent, perhaps, coming in at a slightly later date than the vanilla Nova Lake chips.
Whatever the case, they will be gamer-friendly chips making a move to ramp up performance cores. Previously MLID suggested that the Beast Lake flagship might be a 10 performance core CPU, but the leaker is now saying that a second suggestion floated earlier appears to be the favored plan for Intel. Namely running with 4 'extra big' cores (with super-beefy performance) plus 32 efficiency cores (by this time, those efficiency cores should be a good deal more powerful than what Intel has now, too).
The idea is to push clock speeds (die size, and possibly power usage, cast to the wind, to some extent) and have an 'extreme' focus on single-core performance. The point, as MLID has made clear before, is to take on AMD's X3D chips and beat Team Red for gaming performance.
However, as already mentioned, the further we tread down this timeline - and we're four years out, maybe even five, with Beast Lake - the less accurate predictions will be. After all, even if this is Intel's plan right now, a lot can happen in a year or two - let alone half a decade.
Still, this is an exciting glimpse of the future-that-might-be, and how Intel could potentially cater for gamers better.
Also in this video, MLID discusses how it looks like Intel has ditched hyper-threading with Arrow Lake (don't panic - that's not necessarily a bad thing). This is part of a broader shift as Intel looks to replace hyper-threading with 'rentable units' (RUs) in Panther Lake, we're told by the leaker - a transition that will be complete with Nova Lake.
Obviously enough, large doses of seasoning need to be applied to all these assertions.