Intel Haswell launched with huge boost to graphics
The first Intel Haswell processor delivers a 58% improvement in graphics performance
Intel has launched its first batch of Haswell processors, which deliver a significant boost to graphics performance in PC Pro's benchmarks.
Haswell - officially known as 4th Generation Intel Core - is the successor to Ivy Bridge (3rd Generation Core processor). Haswell is a new architecture that's built on the same 22nm process as Ivy Bridge.
This article was updated on 4 June with new details of mobile CPUs (under sub-heading below)
Our benchmark results on the first Haswell desktop processor - the Core i7-4770K - show significant performance improvements over the last generation chips, especially when it comes to graphics.
The Core i7-4770K showed an overall improvement of almost 10% in our Real World Benchmarks, scoring 1.16 compared to 1.06 for the last-generation Ivy Bridge i7-3770K.
However, the real performance boost comes with the integrated graphics, delivering a 58% improvement over its Ivy Bridge equivalent. The Core i7-4770K recorded a playable 38fps at Medium quality settings in Crysis, compared to 24fps for the i7-3770K.
Graphics performance is set to improve further still with the forthcoming i7-4770R model, which will include the Iris Pro GPU, which contains more graphics execution units and 128MB of embedded dynamic RAM inside the CPU package, capable of serving as an extension to the CPU cache – or as a high-speed video buffer.
For many gamers, the improved integrated graphics performance may be sufficient to forego a discrete graphics chip altogether. Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in Bejing, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC client group at Intel, said Haswell would deliver "the same visual experience and gameplay as a discrete graphics card that users would otherwise have to add separately", and the company appears to have delivered on that promise.
Intel has released additional details of forthcoming mobile CPUs. These include the first two chips in its new Y-range, aimed at tablets and lightweight convertibles: the Core i5-4200Y has a maximum Turbo speed of 1.9GHz, while the Core i3-4010Y is fixed at 1.3GHz. Both offer a low 11.5W TDP, and benefit from Intel’s "one-chip" design, which moves the chipset into the CPU package to reduce power wastage and increase battery life.
Intel has also revealed a range of seven low-power processors aimed at Ultrabooks. These all have TDPs of 15W – reduced from the last generation’s 17W – but represent a wide spread of capabilities. The most powerful model, the Core i7-4650U, supports Turbo frequencies up to 3.3GHz and features an HD Graphics 5000 GPU.
At the other end of the scale, the Core i3-4010U is fixed at a base speed of 1.7GHz, and uses the more modest HD Graphics 4400 GPU. All of these parts are dual-core designs, with Hyper-threading allowing them to service four execution threads at once.
Reversing PC sales?
Intel is hoping that Haswell will help reverse plunging PC sales. Speaking last week, Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Client Platform division, said that the PC market was struggling because there was "no compelling reason to upgrade". He said the performance and battery life boost promised by Haswell would provide such an incentive.