Intel Haswell - Big Hope for Intel, Says Analyst

Intel Haswell Set to Benefit Significantly from 22nm Tri-Gate Process Tech

by Anton Shilov
09/07/2012 | 04:49 PM

It is indisputable that Intel Corp.'s latest microprocessors are very competitive in terms of performance, power consumption and other qualities. But no matter how good code-named Ivy Bridge chips are, the next-generation Haswell have to be better. Analysts believe that Intel pins a lot of hopes on Haswell as the chips will be in many ways revolutionary.

 

"Haswell will be the first processor to be designed from the ground up to fully optimize the power savings and performance benefits from the move to 3D or tri-gate transistors on the 22nm process node. Improved graphics performance. Haswell is expected to double the graphics performance vs. Ivy Bridge processors bringing its performance on par with the $50 - $70 graphics cards," said Vivek Arya, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, in a note to clients, reports Tech Trader Daily.

The slow take-off of ultrabooks and all-in-one desktops this year is a result of not only slow economy, but also of emergence of new computing devices, primarily smartphones and tablets. The latter support functionality that personal computers just do not have. Therefore, in order to make notebooks comparable with media tablets, they will have to gain certain qualities, like very long battery life, instant start-up, multi-touch controls and so on. A lot of features need to be implemented on the platform level (e.g., multi-touch screens on notebooks), but there are things that Intel can incorporate into its chips to enable long battery life amid high performance traditionally offered by x86 chips.

Provided that Haswell is truly designed to take maximum advantage of tri-gate 22nm process technology, it will not only offer great power savings, but will also lower manufacturing costs of the chips, which will let Intel to sell them at lower price-points without sacrificing its own margins. That will likely give a boost to ultrabooks as well as change the economics of the microprocessor market in general, which will be a revolution by itself.

What will be interesting to see is whether Haswell and its successor Rockwell or Skylake and its successor Skymont will be the chips that will actually wed high-performance and flexibility of x86 with ultra-low power consumption and fixed-function functionality of custom system-on-chips. The chip that will be able to do this will be a true revolution.

Intel Haswell microprocessors for mainstream desktops and laptops will be structurally similar to existing Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" and "Ivy Bridge" chips and will continue to have two or four cores with Hyper-Threading technology along with graphics adapter that shares last level cache (LLC) with processing cores and works with memory controller via system agent. The processors that belong to the Haswell generation will continue to rely on dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L  memory controller with DDR power gating support to trim idle power consumption. The chip will have three PCI Express 3.0 controllers, Intel Turbo Boost technology with further improvements and so on.

On the micro-architectural level the chip will be a lot dissimilar compared to available solutions. It is believed that the new Haswell x86 micro-architecture will be substantially different from existing, which will enable further scalability and performance increases. Besides, Haswell will support numerous new instructions, including AVX2,  bit manipulation instructions, FPMA (floating point multiple accumulate) and others. The new graphics core based on Denlow architecture is projected to support such new features as DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 3.2+, to be substantially more powerful and to be certified to run numerous professional applications.

Intel Haswell chips also implement a number of aggressive measures to trim power consumption, including power aware interrupt routing for power/performance optimizations, configurable TDP and LPM, DDR power gating, power optimizer (CPPM) support, idle power improvements, latest power states, etc.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.