Sandy Bridge was Intel’s first monolithic processor to integrate graphics processing elements within the processor itself. Ivy Bridge saw Intel further refine the architecture, using a new 22nm manufacturing process to build the processors, thereby improving performance and also efficiency.
With Sandy Bridge, Intel promised improve graphics capabilities on their processors and that has been somewhat fulfilled. The new Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU that is found on selected Ivy Bridge processors has proven itself to be a decent performer. However, Intel has always maintained that users the true potential of their monolithic architecture will only be fully realized with Haswell.
Haswell is the codename of Intel’s 4th generation Core processors, and if these early performance figures from Intel are anything to go by, could prove to offer the biggest leap in graphics performance yet. These are the slides we have received from Intel illustrating the graphics performance of their new Haswell processors in three consumer spaces: ultrabook, premium notebook and high-end desktop.
Based on the graphs alone, we can say that one can expect to see around 50% increase in performance from the new Haswell processors. In best case scenarios, the improvement in performance can be as much as 100% to 200%. This is certainly promising and hints at the potential of the new Haswell processors.
There are a few important points to bear in mind first when looking at the graphs. Firstly, these are normalized using the 3rd generation Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU as the baseline. Secondly, the results here are based on synthetic benchmarks, which may not be representative of real world performance. Hence, one should take these graphs with a pinch of salt.
And finally, there will be three new integrated graphics processors for Haswell, each offering differing levels of graphics performance. Intel has not revealed the specifications of these new graphics processors, but we do know that its high-end graphics processor will have embedded DRAM. The new integrated graphics processors will also have new names and the top of the line integrated graphics processor will embedded DRAM will be known as Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200. Next in line is the Intel Iris Graphics 5100 and finally the Intel HD Graphics 5000.
Also, and quite confusingly, not all Haswell processors will have the new integrated graphics processors. According to what we learned from Intel, the Core i7-4770K in the slide above is in fact paired with an older Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics processor part, which explains why despite a much higher 84W TDP it loses out to the lower TDP Core i7-4770R, which is equipped with one of the new graphics processors.
That said, the older Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics processors will be appreciably revised and given new names. Intel has not released much details, but we do know that there will be Intel HD Graphics 4600, 4400 and 4200 integrated graphics processors.
Understandably, such a move - pairing Haswell with older GPU parts - could cause lots of confusion, but we believe Intel would limit such pairings to higher-end SKUs where users would want to use their spanking new Haswell processors with top of the line discrete graphics cards to get the maximum performance.
All this being said, there’s still a lot more we do not know about the new graphics processing component in Haswell such as number of execution units, clock speeds and memory. We will fill you in on these as details from Intel become available.