Intel Haswell: everything you need to know

News 22 Oct, 2013

Updated: Intel Haswell chips power the next generation of Apple products

It's official: Apple's next-generation Macbook Pro range will sport Intel's Haswell chipset, launched in June. Promising giant leaps in power effiencey and overall performance, the chipsets utilise a newly designed architecture and are manufactured using the 22nm process.

Here's everything you need to know about Intel Haswell. 

The chips

The mobile processors will come in four varieties, and will have different capabilities depending on their suffix.

H – The quad-core processors will have Intel’s highest graphics capabilities available – dubbed Iris Pro (5200).

M – Theset raditional 2-chip models which will be available in quad-core/dual-core varieties.

U – Designed specifically for Ultrabooks – these System-on-chip (SoC) processors will available in either 28Watt or 15Watt varieties. The 28W chip will have the highest available Iris Pro (5200) graphics capabilities and the 15Watt chips will have the Iris graphics (5100).

Y – The lowest power Core-based processor will also have a System-on-chip design and will be designed for detachable products.

UPDATE: 18/06/2013

Leaked slides from Intel show that it plans to launch an unlocked desktop range known as the Haswell-E series.

According to the documentation obtained by VR-Zone.com, these will be the first chipsets to to use 6- and 8-cores, as opposed to just 4 cores. Power users will be able to overclock the chips out-of-the-box and reports suggest the chips will be between a 33 – 50 per cent faster than it predecessor.

With heavy duty processing power on board, the E-Series range will need to be supported by discrete graphics. The slides from Intel suggest that the processors will each support up to four graphics cards.

Intel has also drip fed information about its forthcoming Wellsburg motherboard. This will support four-channel DDR4 RAM for the first time, with a clock speed of 2133 MHz. Combined together, the E-series processor, DDR4 RAM, and  Wellsburg motherboard will be able to power up to 10 SATA hard drives transferring data at up to 6Gbps, and support a total of 14 USB ports (six USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0).

Battery life

The chipmaker claims Haswell will bring the biggest improvement in battery life Intel has ever produced.

Haswell chips will have 3 power states, compared to two in its predecessor, Ivy Bridge. These will be Active, Sleep, and Active Idle. Intel claims the advanced power saving will help give it at least 20x power consumption improvement over third generation chips.

Intel claims its flagship Core i7-4650U processor with uses 15W of power will provide up to 9 hours of HD video playback. This is three hours longer than its equivalent Core i7 processor from the previous generation.

The 4th generation Core processors will be able to support Ultra HD displays – also known as 4K. This will be four times clearer than current HD. 4k has over 8 million individual pixels (3,840 x 2,160) compared to about 2 million for HD (1,920 x 1,080).
 

Performance

Intel has confirmed that graphics performance will be double that of the previous generation.

Tom’s Hardware benchmarked a high-end Core i7-4770K part ahead of launch, comparing it to the previous generation Ivy Bridge.

In the various tests, Haswell showed significant improvement when it came to gaming, but commonly used tasks such as converting video, music and documents didn't show too much of an increase.

 

Devices

Haswell chips will power servers and desktops as well as next-generation Ultrabooks. HP is one of the first manufacturers to unveil devices running the chipset.

The TouchSmart 14 Ultrabook that will be available with an optional 14in 3,200 x 1,800 display, placing it head-to-head with the likes of the Chromebook Pixel and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. 

Meanwhile, the Envy 17 will pack a 17.3in screen with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 2TB of storage and four speakers with Beats Audio.

Meanwhile, Dell has announced its T1700 Workstations will be powered by the Haswell Xeon E3-1200 chipset, support for up to 32GB of EEC memory and 4 DIMM slots. Users will be able to choose between one 3.5in SATA disk or two 2.5in SATA disks.

Despite the small chassis, Dell has packed in a range of ports onto the T1700. The front will include 2 x USB 2 and 2 x USB 3 ports. The rear will pack 4 x USB 2 and 2 x USB 3 as well as 2 x PS2, 2 x DisplayPorts, 1 x VGA and 1 x RJ45 connections.

Haswell is also expected to be used in a variety of hybrid designs, and it is likely to show up in Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2.

Release date

Speaking at Intel’s Developer Forum in Beijing, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC client group at Intel confirmed the processors will start shipping in Q2.
 

Pricing

Online vendors such as The PC SuperStore have put up a price list for Core i5 and i7 parts. Prices range from $197 for the Core i5 4430 to $368 for the high-end Core i7 4770K.

Will Haswell boost Ultrabook sales?

Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner told IT Pro that Haswell chips are unlikely to boost the sale of Ultrabooks.

"The problem with PC sales is that there are a) alternative product categories and b) there really isn’t a new application category that will drive sales of Ultrabooks/notebooks at lifetimes that are shorter than the standard 3 – 4 years," he said.

"So people will buy an Ultrabook when they have to but the problem is that people don’t need a notebook refresh that soon, especially as more systems move to the browser. And poor marketing of Windows 8 has hurt."