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Graphics Core

Graphics core is a completely different story. It has also undergone some significant modifications, as Intel has been very serious about equipping their processors with some powerful graphics. Haswell is expected to double the graphics performance vs. Ivy Bridge processors bringing its performance on par with the $50 - $70 graphics cards.

The general architecture of Haswell graphics is the same as that of the graphics core in Ivy Bridge processors. Just like with their computational core, Intel works on improving individual units and increasing the number of execution units, which became possible due to modular core structure.

At the same time, the next generation Broadwell processors will most likely feature a completely new graphics core.

This is 4th generation integrated graphics. This round they added further extensions to the APIs, similar to those in Ivy Bridge with enhanced performance making it very much software and driver compatible machine. Of course, they have done some work on graphics core power efficiency as well.

However, they have also introduced new approach to creating GPU cores with different performance. Previously, they designed one powerful core and then rolled out its “lite” version with a cut-down number of execution units. Now there are three graphics core modifications. The top one doesn’t just have increased EU, but has duplicated general and shader domains.

Moreover, to ensure that the power consumption is managed in the most optimal way, the GPU has been totally decoupled. Now you can have the CPU and the graphics core working at low voltage and low frequency, which in the end produces a very flexible engine. And GT3 SKU may go into a much higher performance segment, or a higher power efficiency segment.

The four slides above give a perfect idea of what the most feature-rich GT3 Haswell GPU microarchitecture will be like. As we can see, the pipeline now has a resource streamer. By offloading some work on the driver, more power and frequency can now be allocated for the graphics. This allowed to minimize the driver overhead substantially.

Other than that, the GT3 graphics modification simply has doubled everything. The performance of the classical rendering pipeline has been doubled. Rasterization, Z-buffer, and Stencil buffer have been doubled, too. The execution units are now twice as many. As a result, Intel Haswell GT3 graphics core is twice as fast the top Ivy Bridge GPU. Of we can look at it differently: Haswell is capable of providing the same graphics performance as Ivy Bridge, but at only half the power.

Of course, there are also come connectivity improvements, too. The new graphics core will support three independent monitors connected via digital HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces. In this case the maximum supported resolutions will be 4K x 2K.

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