There’s no doubt that Intel plans to and will sell several hundred million processors that are carrying the codename "Haswell". Also, there’s no doubt that "Haswell" APU (Accelerated Processing Unit, CPU+GPU+Northbridge) suffered through several delays as the company shifted its engineering focus on building mobile parts, where Intel has less than one percent of market share.
Given the shift in engineering focus, we were not surprised not to see Haswell availability pushed to the summer of 2013, with the launch of Haswell-based parts between IDF China 2013 and the Computex Taipei 2013. Rumors that Haswell will have issues with USB 3.0 are just that – rumors, while the rumor that Intel is going with a non-upgradable BGA package is coming to "half-truth". Tom’s Hardware Guide recently posted a detailed pre-review of Core i7-4770K, Intel’s top of the line Haswell part. For explanation, you need to look at the table below:
Intel "Haswell" Desktop Line-up. Source: Tomshardware.com
The line-up splits in desktop and mobile, LGA and BGA – with mobile parts offered as an SoC (CPU+GPU+Chipset) or regular package, all in the new LGA-1150 package. With Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, Intel changed the number of lines from LGA-1156 to LGA-1155, making the parts mutually incompatible.
Going forward, Intel also decided not to allow full 40 Execution Units (40 EU) in an LGA socket. If you want premier graphics experience from Intel, you have to purchase an appropriate notebook. In our conversations with leading game developers, we received interesting information. We took one piece of Skype conversation which we can publish, under condition of anonymity:
"Haswell is another Intel (product). They always promise, and never deliver. It is not about performance in a synthetic (benchmark) it is about (that) they don’t support essential features we need and don’t need to worry about compatibility on (our) code. Fusion, Radeon and GeForce have it all covered and if we have issues they resolve them or work (with us). Forget it they live in a mobile world right now."
However, this was not the view shared by the media that published the preview of Core i7-4770K, top-of-the-line Haswell APU, when compared to direct competition from AMD:
"Almost certainly, however, a (mobile) part with twice as many execution units and 128 MB of L4/eDRAM at 1.2 GHz would blow (AMD) Trinity out of the water in games. A comparison to Richland probably won’t change much there. And we’ll likely need to wait until 2014 to see how Kaveri affects AMD’s position."
Performance in terms of L1 cache was greatly improved over Ivy Bridge and Haswell, which didn’t improved the performance in real world apps:
Real world performance: WinZip 17 in CPU and OpenCL modes.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 "Space Flyby" Mentalray
Interestingly enough, while Intel representatives did not react in public, the engineering side could not stay silent and quotes such as "this is not the finite performance of the product, we don?t have everything enabled" were heard. In a way, this could be true, given that the manufacturers do their best to ‘sandbag’ before the release of a product. This tactic is common in Formula One, where teams go and do public tests with unpublished amount of fuel and then do internal calculations. When the racing finally begins and extra fuel removed from of the car, qualifying shows real pace.
Is Intel "sandbagging" with Haswell, Core i7-4770K? Only time will tell. In meanwhile, we are leaving you with a quote from the article:
"The pre-production Core i7-4770K is in the neighborhood of 7 to 13% faster than Core i7-3770K in today?s threaded workloads. That?s pretty consistent with the evolution from Sandy to Ivy Bridge, even as the flagship Haswell-based part keeps its thermal ceiling under 84 W.
Processors with Intel?s HD Graphics 4600 engine should offer notably better 3D performance than today?s HD Graphics 4000, though most enthusiasts purchasing unlocked K-series parts won?t even notice. An additional four execution units and a maximum dynamic frequency 100 MHz faster than Core i7-3770K are only good for incrementally-faster frame rates – but nothing that?ll replace discrete graphics (seems to be the conclusion we draw every generation, huh?). As before, desktop gamers will continue buying graphics cards."