At the last year’s IDF Intel revealed Ivy Bridge. Frankly speaking, back then they were more detailed and down-to-earth. This time we heard the story of Haswell, but it was mostly recited off the presentation slides. Yes, we did see a working concept system at the Tuesday keynote, but there was only one and obviously it was far from final. And there was no mention of the silicon at all. We didn’t see the actual chip, and only heard some general things about the microarchitecture, without any details on the specific SKUs. What does it mean? Has Intel become more secretive? Not at all. It is simply the absence of real competition in the high-end computing segment that took away the need to keep up the fast pace. Haswell will not hit the market in the beginning of the year, which is Intel’s traditional “big launch timeframe”. And when we asked “when?”, we heard a very vague response about “some time in mid 2013. So, it means that they are still quite far from the final stages of Haswell launch-readiness.
However, what we learned yesterday made us very optimistic about the future. The progress continues, the microarchitecture gets further improved and perfected. However, most Intel’s efforts are targeting not the increase in the processors computational performance. The primary focus is on lowering the power consumption and speeding up the graphics core. In other words, the focus on the mobile segment is more than obvious. This isn’t such good news for the enthusiast desktop users. It means that we shouldn’t expect a substantial performance boost with the launch of the new Haswell processors. 10-20% in typical applications compared with the Ivy Bridge based systems working at the same frequency is most likely as good as it gets. Clock frequencies also shouldn’t increase dramatically: the production process is the same, and there will be no changes to the execution pipeline. So, the desktop Haswell will most likely look more like a regular evolutionary refresh of the old design. And it won’t be the best refresh, because it will bring the new LGA 1150 platform with it.
Nevertheless, in the light of nothing super-innovative in the desktop processor market, we are still very excited to see the new Haswell. It does have a lot of appealing features. We would really like to see the new enhanced overclocking and how it will handle the integrated voltage regulator. We also hope that software developers will not avoid new AVX2 instructions and new media functionality of the Haswell processors, because these features may make new processors very popular and broadly adopted solution.