Intel’s New Adaptive Boost Technology for Core i9-K/KF

Taken from our news item

To say that Intel’s turbo levels are complicated to understand is somewhat of an understatement. Trying to teach the difference between the turbo levels to those new to measuring processor performance is an art form in of itself. But here’s our handy guide, taken from our article on the subject.

Adaptive Boost Technology is now the fifth frequency metric Intel uses on its high-end enthusiast grade processors, and another element in Intel’s ever complex ‘Turbo’ family of features. Here’s the list, in case we forget one:

Intel Frequency Levels
Base Frequency - The frequency at which the processor is guaranteed to run under warranty conditions with a power consumption no higher than the TDP rating of the processor.
Turbo Boost 2.0 TB2 When in a turbo mode, this is the defined frequency the cores will run at. TB2 varies with how many cores are being used.
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 TBM3
'Favored Core'
When in a turbo mode, for the best cores on the processor (usually one or two), these will get extra frequency when they are the only cores in use.
Thermally Velocity Boost TVB When in a turbo mode, if the peak thermal temperature detected on the processor is below a given value (70ºC on desktops), then the whole processor will get a frequency boost of +100 MHz. This follows the TB2 frequency tables depending on core loading.
Adaptive Boost Technology ABT
'floating turbo'
When in a turbo mode, if 3 or more cores are active, the processor will attempt to provide the best frequency within the power budget, regardless of the TB2 frequency table. The limit of this frequency is given by TB2 in 2-core mode. ABT overrides TVB when 3 or more cores are active.
*Turbo mode is limited by the turbo power level (PL2) and timing (Tau) of the system. Intel offers recommended guidelines for this, but those guidelines can be overridden (and are routinely ignored) by motherboard manufacturers. Most gaming motherboards will implement an effective ‘infinite’ turbo mode. In this mode, the peak power observed will be the PL2 value. It is worth noting that the 70ºC requirement for TVB is also often ignored, and TVB will be applied whatever the temperature.

Intel provided a slide trying to describe the new ABT, however the diagram is a bit of a mess and doesn’t explain it that well. Here’s the handy AnandTech version.

First up is the Core i7-11700K that AnandTech has already reviewed. This processor has TB2, TBM3, but not TVB or ABT.

The official specifications show that when one to four cores are loaded, when in turbo mode, it will boost to 4.9 GHz. If it is under two cores, the OS will shift the threads onto the favored cores and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 will kick in for 5.0 GHz. More than four core loading will be distributed as above.

On the Core i9-11900, the non-overclocking version, we also get Thermal Velocity Boost which adds another +100 MHz onto every core max turbo, but only if the processor is below 70ºC.

We can see here that the first two cores get both TBM3 (favored core) as well as TVB, which makes those two cores give a bigger jump. In this case, if all eight cores are loaded, the turbo is 4.6 GHz, unless the CPU is under 70ºC, then we get an all-core turbo of 4.7 GHz.

Now move up to the Core i9-11900K or Core i9-11900KF, which are the only two processors with the new floating turbo / Adaptive Boost Technology. Everything beyond two cores changes and TVB no longer applies.

Here we see what looks like a 5.1 GHz all-core turbo, from three cores to eight cores loaded. This is +300 MHz above TVB when all eight cores are loaded. But the reason why I’m calling this a floating turbo is because it is opportunistic.

What this means is that, if all 8 cores are loaded, TB2 means that it will run at 4.7 GHz. If there is power budget and thermal budget, it will attempt 4.8 GHz. If there is more power budget and thermal budget available, it will go to 4.9 GHz, then 5.0 GHz, then 5.1 GHz. The frequency will float as long as it has enough of those budgets to play with, and it will increase/decrease as necessary. This is important as different instructions cause different amounts of power draw and such.

If this sounds familiar, you are not wrong. AMD does the same thing, and they call it Precision Boost 2, and it was introduced in April 2018 with Zen+. AMD applies its floating turbo to all of its processors – Intel is currently limiting floating turbo to only the Core i9-K and Core i9-KF in Core 11th Gen Rocket Lake.

One of the things that we noticed with AMD however is that this floating turbo does increase power draw, especially with AVX/AVX2 workloads. Intel is likely going to see similar increases in power draw. What might be a small saving grace here is that Intel’s frequency jumps are still limited to full 100 MHz steps, whereas AMD can do it on the 25 MHz boundary. This means that Intel has to manage larger steps, and will likely only cross that boundary if it knows it can be maintained for a fixed amount of time. It will be interesting to see if Intel gives the user the ability to change those entry/exit points for Adaptive Boost Technology.

There will be some users who are already familiar with Multi-Core Enhancement / Multi-Core Turbo. This is a feature from some motherboard vendors have, and often enable at default, which lets a processor reach an all-core turbo equal to the single core turbo. That is somewhat similar to ABT, but that was more of a fixed frequency, whereas ABT is a floating turbo design. That being said, some motherboard vendors might still have Multi-Core Enhancement as part of their design anyway, bypassing ABT.

Overall, it’s a performance plus. It makes sense for the users that can also manage the thermals. AMD caught a wind with the feature when it moved to TSMC’s 7nm. I have a feeling that Intel will have to shift to a new manufacturing node to get the best out of ABT, and then we might see the feature on the more mainstream CPUs, as well as becoming default as standard.

Motherboards and Overclocking Support Power Consumption: Caution on Core i9


View All Comments

  • vanish1 - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    Best thing about Intel CPUs is you dont need a dGPU to make them work nor only limit your selection to APUs from AMD.

    If youre building a computer right now and you dont already have a GPU then there is zero value in any AMD CPU currently.
  • BushLin - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    So it's the only option for someone who builds their own gaming PCs but doesn't have a GPU from the last ~6 years to offer better than crappy dGPU performance... Reply
  • vanish1 - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    ^No idea what youre trying to say Reply
  • 29a - Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - link

    He's trying to say if you've got a 6 year old dGPU it will outperform Intel's iGPU. Reply
  • BushLin - Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - link

    Thanks for that, yes, well deduced. Can't fix typos, substitute dGPU for iGPU and hopefully makes sense.
    Also, I'd rather pay over the odds for an old, bottom tier RX 550 than game on a poor iGPU and that's from someone who only buys Nvidia.
  • vanish1 - Thursday, April 1, 2021 - link

    Right that makes sense (sarcasm); so you want to buy into and support the currently overpriced GPU market with the purchase of future E-waste, game on said old GPU for a year, then spend even more money on another GPU. The money wasted is better spent on other parts of your PC or saved when the time comes to buy the desired GPU. Reply
  • BushLin - Thursday, April 1, 2021 - link

    There are way better options than a RX 550 like a GTX 960 or whatever you can scavenge; I used an extreme example to demonstrate just how bad the iGPU option is that you're championing if you have any intention of gaming
    Only talked about performance (or lack of) so far, there's also the issue of drivers: AMD GPU drivers are bad enough for me to pay a premium for Nvidia but Intel's iGPU drivers are even worse for gaming. Intel drivers are usually well developed but the iGPU drivers are an afterthought beyond basic functionality. Perhaps this will change on future products.
  • vanish1 - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    You continue to miss the point. PC gaming has become an expensive hobby only saved for those willing to pay the premium for a dGPU or with skin in the game already (which the latter are a different group than my original point, this is about PEOPLE BUILDING A NEW PC RIGHT NOW). Smart money puts that elsewhere, on a better CPU, mobo, case, etc., picks up another hobby in the meantime, then invests in a GPU when the appropriate time comes. Dumb money wastes their cash and time on old E-waste GPUs because they have nothing better to do. 11600k + $100-$200 extra dollars to play with, yes please. Reply
  • Qasar - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    " PC gaming has become an expensive hobby only saved for those willing to pay the premium for a dGPU " if that is your view, then im sure sony or microsoft have a product that fits your price point.
    " Smart money puts that elsewhere, on a better CPU, mobo, case, etc., picks up another hobby in the meantime, then invests in a GPU when the appropriate time comes. " a smarter person would just save ALL of their money, and buy this comp, when all of the prices drop back down to normal levels after all the demand from what is currently going on in the world, settles down. and probably save more then the point you are trying to make. to buy a whole comp, or even parts of one, is not where the " smart money " is, as the whole industry is seeing inflated prices cause of whats going on in the world with covid19.
    i would love to see you play a modern recent game, on that OH so powerful iGPU, on anything greater then 720p with the graphics option set to any thing other then mid range or lower
    " 11600k + $100-$200 extra dollars to play with, yes please. " more like 5600X + practically any vid card thats $100 or less, and being able to play games at more then 720P at medium or less, graphics settings :-)
  • vanish1 - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Are you seriously an idiot? Im asking in all honesty. Because you keep moving the goal posts to keep fluffing your argument that holds no water.

    Consoles? Were talking about PCs, nice try though. Let me know when I can shove an Xbox into a mobo as a permanent GPU, otherwise youre just wasting more money kicking the can down the road.

    You also do realize that GPUs are the only part of the industry thats overpriced? You can literally buy everything else at msrp or less and things like RAM, SSDs are going to be cheaper NOW than a year later.

    I also never said use the iGPU to game, because gaming on a iGPU, basic dGPU, or APU will be a crappy experience on modern titles.

    But see this is where you continue to miss the point, all I said is if you want to BUILD A PC, never once mentioned GAME ON A PC or ALREADY OWN A GPU. You gloss over this every time because it doesnt fit the incorrect narrative youre trying to portray.

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