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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Intel haswell

Intel Haswell Platform


                                                                       
                                                                    Intel’s latest CPU architecture represents a "Tock" in its "Tick-Tock" upgrade cycle. Instead of going for faster performance at the cost of power, Intel has focused its efforts on lowering the TDP of the CPUs and in doing so, has expanded their SKUs to benefit mobile chipsets.


                          
                                Intel’s 4th Generation Core processor family was undoubtedly the talk of the town at this year’s Computex. Codenamed Haswell, Intel’s latest CPU architecture represents a "Tock" in its "Tick-Tock" upgrade cycle. Instead of going for faster performance at the cost of power, Intel has focused its efforts on lowering the TDP of the CPUs and in doing so, has expanded their SKUs to benefit mobile chipsets. Intel’s new mantra of “2-in-1” computing aims to boost the Ultrabook segment, which quite frankly, has stagnated a bit. 

                              Haswell will help usher in two new SKUs for tablets and hybrids and will feature an all-new 1-chip BGA solution instead of the traditional 2-chip platform. The new design will have the CPU and the PCH integrated into a single package. The new "U-series" chipsets will have much lower TDPs ranging from 11.5W to 15W, which is down from the existing 20W kit on Ivy Bridge. The new Y-series line-up will see a further decrease in power as low as 6W. These chipsets are reserved for hybrids that require the processor to be placed behind the screen and not the base.

The new BGA chip should improve battery life of hybrids by quite a bit

                         Complementing these low-power CPUs is the new Intel Iris and Iris Pro graphics chips, which aim to deliver up to twice the gaming performance in Ultrabooks compared to their corresponding Ivy Bridge GPUs. The new GPUs also support faster Quick Sync Video decoding and transcoding along with support for DX11.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.0, multi-screen and 4K support. Intel Iris graphics will feature with certain SKUs and will co-exist with the HD 4600 chips. We can expect these new power-efficient chips in the upcoming slimmer Ultrabooks and Hybrid PCs.


Desktop Haswell demystified

                                                       Today, we’ll be focusing on the desktop parts of Haswell, which will launch first. We have with us today, the enthusiast-grade Core i7-4770K CPU and the Intel DZ87KLT-75K motherboard. Let’s start with the CPU first. Haswell will be available in all three flavours of Core i7, i5 and i3. The i7 and i5 parts will all be quad-core except that the i7 chips will have HyperThreading and 8MB of L3 cache instead of 6MB. The Core i7-4770R is the only one in that series of the BGA variety and will be adopted mostly by OEMs for All-in-One PCs. The i7-4770K still uses the 22nm fabrication process, but ditches the LGA 1155 socket for a new LGA 1150. Thankfully, the mounting points for the CPU cooler are the same as the previous generation, so your older CPU coolers should work just fine without the need for a new bracket.  Here’s a quick comparison across generations.



                                          The new socket arrives along with the 8-series motherboards. Compared to the 7-series, the new chipset adds native support for up to 6 USB 3.0 ports and up to 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports. Legacy PCI support has been removed from all SKUs and the digital display interface is now moved to the CPU.

The reference Intel motherboard is quite feature rich as is. All the components and expansion ports are well laid out along with sufficient cooling for the VRM areas near the CPU. We also have physical power and reset switches on the board along with debug LEDs for quick diagnostics. Expansion ports include three PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots, out of which, the second and third are x8 electrically

                                         The rear ports include two high-current USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, PS2, two RJ45 connectors, a 1394a port, HDMI, Thunderbolt-out and audio-out along with S/PDIF support. Installing the components was a breeze. The new UEFI BIOS is easy to navigate through even for a novice user. The main screen lets you quickly view and tweak the basic settings of the CPU, GPU and memory. You can further fine tune these settings and the voltages through the "Performance" tab.

                                         Incrementally good performance as compared to Ivy Bridge

The bottom line

                                      If you have an existing Ivy Bridge system, then moving to Haswell, at least on the desktop front, won’t give you any major performance gains. We’re looking at a performance jump anywhere between 5 percent to 15 percent at best. What’s really interesting is the new low-power chips that will arrive soon with the new Ultrabooks. 

The Core i7-4770K is priced at $350 (approx. Rs 20,000), but we're yet to see what the final Indian pricing will be. If you were holding out on your next upgrade for Haswell, then it seems like an Ivy Bridge rig would be a good alternative, as the prices of both CPUs and motherboards are bound to drop once these new chips start flooding the market.



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