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Tag Archives: Core i7

AnandTech | Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics Review: Core i7-4950HQ Tested

The Prelude

As Intel got into the chipset business it quickly found itself faced with an interesting problem. As the number of supported IO interfaces increased (back then we were talking about things like AGP, FSB), the size of the North Bridge die had to increase in order to accommodate all of the external facing IO. Eventually Intel ended up in a situation where IO dictated a minimum die area for the chipset, but the actual controllers driving that IO didn’t need all of that die area. Intel effectively had some free space on its North Bridge die to do whatever it wanted with. In the late 90s Micron saw this problem and contemplating throwing some L3 cache onto its North Bridges. Intel’s solution was to give graphics away for free.

The budget for Intel graphics was always whatever free space remained once all other necessary controllers in the North Bridge were accounted for. As a result, Intel’s integrated graphics was never particularly good. Intel didn’t care about graphics, it just had some free space on a necessary piece of silicon and decided to do something with it. High performance GPUs need lots of transistors, something Intel would never give its graphics architects – they only got the bare minimum. It also didn’t make sense to focus on things like driver optimizations and image quality. Investing in people and infrastructure to support something you’re giving away for free never made a lot of sense.

Intel hired some very passionate graphics engineers, who always petitioned Intel management to give them more die area to work with, but the answer always came back no. Intel was a pure blooded CPU company, and the GPU industry wasn’t interesting enough at the time. Intel’s GPU leadership needed another approach.

A few years ago they got that break. Once again, it had to do with IO demands on chipset die area. Intel’s chipsets were always built on a n-1 or n-2 process. If Intel was building a 45nm CPU, the chipset would be built on 65nm or 90nm. This waterfall effect allowed Intel to help get more mileage out of its older fabs, which made the accountants at Intel quite happy as those $2 – $3B buildings are painfully useless once obsolete. As the PC industry grew, so did shipments of Intel chipsets. Each Intel CPU sold needed at least one other Intel chip built on a previous generation node. Interface widths as well as the number of IOs required on chipsets continued to increase, driving chipset die areas up once again. This time however, the problem wasn’t as easy to deal with as giving the graphics guys more die area to work with. Looking at demand for Intel chipsets, and the increasing die area, it became clear that one of two things had to happen: Intel would either have to build more fabs on older process nodes to keep up with demand, or Intel would have to integrate parts of the chipset into the CPU.

Not wanting to invest in older fab technology, Intel management green-lit the second option: to move the Graphics and Memory Controller Hub onto the CPU die. All that would remain off-die would be a lightweight IO controller for things like SATA and USB. PCIe, the memory controller, and graphics would all move onto the CPU package, and then eventually share the same die with the CPU cores.

Pure economics and an unwillingness to invest in older fabs made the GPU a first class citizen in Intel silicon terms, but Intel management still didn’t have the motivation to dedicate more die area to the GPU. That encouragement would come externally, from Apple.

Looking at the past few years of Apple products, you’ll recognize one common thread: Apple as a company values GPU performance. As a small customer of Intel’s, Apple’s GPU desires didn’t really matter, but as Apple grew, so did its influence within Intel. With every microprocessor generation, Intel talks to its major customers and uses their input to help shape the designs. There’s no sense in building silicon that no one wants to buy, so Intel engages its customers and rolls their feedback into silicon. Apple eventually got to the point where it was buying enough high-margin Intel silicon to influence Intel’s roadmap. That’s how we got Intel’s HD 3000. And that’s how we got here.

Read the full review @ AnandTech.

AnandTech | The Haswell Review: Intel Core i7-4770K & i5-4560K Tested

The Launch Lineup: Quad Cores For All

As was the case with the launch of Ivy Bridge last year, Intel is initially launching with their high-end quad core parts, and as the year passes on will progressively rollout dual cores, low voltage parts, and other lower-end parts. That means the bigger notebooks and naturally the performance desktops will arrive first, followed by the ultraportables, Ultrabooks and more affordable desktops. One change however is that Intel will be launching their first BGA (non-socketed) Haswell part right away, the Iris Pro equipped i7-4770R.

Intel 4th Gen Core i7 Desktop Processors
Model Core i7-4770K Core i7-4770 Core i7-4770S Core i7-4770T Core i7-4770R Core i7-4765T
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
CPU Base Freq 3.5 3.4 3.1 2.5 3.2 2.0
Max Turbo 3.9 (Unlocked) 3.9 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.0
Test TDP 84W 84W 65W 45W 65W 35W
HD Graphics 4600 4600 4600 4600 Iris Pro 5200 4600
GPU Max Clock 1250 1200 1200 1200 1300 1200
L3 Cache 8MB 8MB 8MB 8MB 6MB 8MB
DDR3 Support 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600
vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Package LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 BGA LGA-1150
Price $339 $303 $303 $303 OEM $303

Starting at the top of the product and performance stack, we have the desktop Core i7 parts. All of these CPUs feature Hyper-Threading Technology, so they’re the same quad-core with four virtual cores that we’ve seen since Bloomfield hit the scene. The fastest chip for most purposes remains the K-series 4770K, with its unlocked multiplier and slightly higher base clock speed. Base core clocks as well as maximum Turbo Boost clocks are basically dictated by the TDP, with the 4770S being less likely to maintain maximum turbo most likely, and the 4770T and 4765T giving up quite a bit more in clock speed in order to hit substantially lower power targets.

It’s worth pointing out that the highest “Test TDP” values are up slightly relative to the last generation Ivy Bridge equivalents—84W instead of 77W. Mobile TDPs are a different matter, and as we’ll discuss elsewhere they’re all 2W higher, but that is further offset by the improved idle power consumption Haswell brings.

Nearly all of these are GT2 graphics configurations (20 EUs), so they should be slightly faster than the last generation HD 4000 in graphics workloads. The one exception is the i7-4770R, which is also the only chip that comes in a BGA package. The reasoning here is simple: if you want the fastest iGPU configuration (GT3e with 40 EUs and embedded DRAM), you’re probably not going to have a discrete GPU and will most likely be purchasing an OEM desktop. Interestingly, the 4770R also drops the L3 cache down to 6MB, and it’s not clear whether this is due to it having no real benefit (i.e. the eDRAM may function as an even larger L4 cache), or if it’s to reduce power use slightly, or Intel may have a separate die for this particular configuration. Then again, maybe Intel is just busily creating a bit of extra market segmentation.

Not included in the above table are all the common features to the entire Core i7 line: AVX2 instructions, Quick Sync, AES-NI, PCIe 3.0, and Intel Virtualization Technology. As we’ve seen in the past, the K-series parts (and now the R-series as well) omit support for vPro, TXT, VT-d, and SIPP from the list. The 4770K is an enthusiast part with overclocking support, so that makes some sense, but the 4770R doesn’t really have the same qualification. Presumably it’s intended for the consumer market, as businesses are less likely to need the Iris Pro graphics.

Intel 4th Gen Core i5 Desktop Processors
Model Core i5-4670K Core i5-4670 Core i5-4670S Core i5-4670T Core i5-4570 Core i5-4570S
Cores/Threads 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4
CPU Base Freq 3.4 3.4 3.1 2.3 3.2 2.9
Max Turbo 3.8 (Unlocked) 3.8 3.8 3.3 3.6 3.6
Test TDP 84W 84W 65W 45W 84W 65W
HD Graphics 4600 4600 4600 4600 4600 4600
GPU Max Clock 1200 1200 1200 1200 1150 1150
L3 Cache 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB
DDR3 Support 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600
vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Package LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150
Price $242 $213 $213 $213 $192 $192

The Core i5 lineup basically rehashes the above story, only now without Hyper-Threading. For many users, Core i5 is the sweet spot of price and performance, delivering nearly all the performance of the i7 models at 2/3 the price. There aren’t any Iris or Iris Pro Core i5 desktop parts, at least not yet, and all of the above CPUs are using the GT2 graphics configuration. As above, the K-series part also lacks vPro/TXT/VT-d support but comes with an unlocked multiplier.

Obviously we’re still missing all of the Core i3 parts, which are likely to be dual-core once more, along with some dual-core i5 parts as well. These are probably going to come in another quarter, or at least a month or two out, as there’s no real need for Intel to launch their lower cost parts right now. Similarly, we don’t have any Celeron or Pentium Haswell derivatives launching yet, and judging by the Ivy Bridge rollout I suspect it may be a couple quarters before Intel pushes out ultra-budget Haswell chips. For now, the Ivy Bridge Celeron/Pentium parts are likely as low as Intel wants to go down the food chain for their “big core” architectures.

Read the full review @ AnandTech.

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