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Intel kicks off Haswell shipments with quad-core Core processors

Agam Shah | June 3, 2013
Intel launches the first batch of laptop chips with quad-core processors, with more chips due later

The company's high-end Iris graphics, which will likely be in high-end PCs, will have more floating point units to boost graphics performance. Additional features like QuickSync will hasten MPEG video encoding and decoding and improve video playback.

Applications will also run faster with the GPUs. For example, web browsers render video via GPUs, and imaging software offloads filtering, image editing and other applications to GPUs. Haswell supports DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0 and OpenCL 1.2, which are parallel programming tools to write applications that harness the combined processing power of CPUs and GPUs.

"Many more applications are taking advantage of GPUs to speed up computing," Brookwood said.

The Haswell desktop CPU improvements are just 5 to 15 percent compared to Ivy Bridge. That number is considered an incremental improvement, but it adds up over years. Intel compared a Core i5-4570S Haswell chip to a five-year old Core 2 Duo 8400 chip, and the Haswell chip was 2.2 times faster on office applications, 9.2 times faster on video and 21 times faster on 3D graphics.

Haswell processors have been tweaked for touch interaction, which is enabled by Windows 8 software. Intel's chips will support gesture and face recognition, and are also tuned for Microsoft's upcoming OS called Windows Blue.

"We're certainly ready for Windows 8.1," Bingham said, declining to offer further comment as the OS has not been officially announced.

Intel acknowledged USB 3.0 standby issues on some Haswell chips, which could affect data being pulled directly off USB drives. PC makers decided to go ahead with PC shipments as the issue is minor, an Intel spokesman said. For example, if a video is being played directly off a USB drive and a laptop goes idle, the corrupted data will automatically be recalibrated when the system awakens.

Intel has broken down its quad-core laptop chips into M-series, which has three new processors, and the H-series, which has two new parts. The prices mentioned are in units of 1,000.

The $378 Core i7-4800MQ and $568 4900MQ chips draw 47 watts of power and operate at base frequencies of 2.7GHz and 2.8GHz respectively, with maximum clock speed of 3.7GHz and 3.8GHz respectively. The fastest M chip is the $1096 Core i7-4930MX, which draws 57 watts, and has a base frequency of 3GHz that tops out at 3.9GHz. The chips include Intel 4600 graphics, and the company expects 13 new M chips to be introduced this year.

The H-series mobile processors includes the $468 Core i7-4850HQ, which has a base frequency of 2.3GHz scaling to 3.5GHz. The $657 Core i7-4950HQ has a frequency of 2.4GHz scaling to 3.6GHz. The chips draw 47 watts of power and have the high-end Iris Graphics. Intel said it would release six new H chips this year.


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