Intel's Haswell Cuts Core PowerSeptember 24, 2012
Author: Kevin Krewell
Intel's next Core processor, code-named Haswell, has a refreshed CPU architecture. Like most new Intel designs, it adds new instructions, including the AVX2 instructions, which are useful for high-performance computing (HPC) and PC games, and a transactional-memory model for highly multithreaded servers. Unrecompiled software will see small performance gains from microarchitecture improvements. But at its recent Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel was proudest of Haswell’s better power management, lower thermal design power (TDP), and much lower idle power. These power improvements support the company’s Ultrabook initiative, which it hopes will fend off increasing competition from tablets.
The first Haswell processors target client computing and are expected to ship in 1H13.These processors will be available in two- and four-core versions and in three GPU performance configurations. Versions for servers and ultra-high-end PCs will appear later. Although Intel did not discuss clock speeds, the basic CPU pipeline is unchanged, so we expect they will be similar to those of corresponding Ivy Bridge processors, which range from 1.8GHz to 3.5GHz.
Haswell will double the graphics performance of Ivy Bridge, which itself brought a big improvement over Sandy Bridge. Three graphics levels will be available in various Haswell versions: the low-end GT1, the midrange GT2 (equivalent to Ivy Bridge), and the new high-performance GT3 level with twice the performance of Ivy Bridge.
For Intel’s Ultrabook initiative, Haswell is the company’s most optimized product to date, but it won’t make a big difference for most users. Battery life will improve, but Ivy Bridge–based notebooks already can achieve eight hours. Gamers will appreciate the better graphics unit and new games that use AVX2. But Haswell’s larger die size will not help bring Ultrabooks to lower price points; the smaller Ivy Bridge will likely still service the majority of the market throughout 2013.