Company touts energy efficiency and graphics performance ahead of Haswell launch
The arrival of the next generation of Intel Core processors is drawing near and, as you would expect, the chipmaker is busy drawing the world’s attention to all that is worth highlighting about its upcoming “Haswell” (codename) chips. The company most recently talked up the 22nm chips it is widely expected to launch early next month at a media briefing it hosted last week.
Select Haswell parts will feature Intel's supercharged Iris graphics.
Nobody brags about integrated graphics, and that's because there's not much there worthy of boast. That's fine, but if manufactures insist on pushing thin and light platforms on the masses and shrinking the desktop, then is it too much to ask for an integrated graphics solution that either (A) doesn't suck, or (B) is better than just serviceable? Intel doesn't think so, and its Iris graphics might be just what the market needs.
LucidLogix Virtu Makes Hybrid Graphics on the desktop possible
Historically, integrated graphics, with their notoriously lackluster performance, have been of little interest to power users. But perceptions began to change with Intel’s Sandy Bridge, and later its Ivy Bridge, microarchitecture. While Sandy Bridge’s DX10-class, Intel HD 2000/3000 graphics engines aren’t cutting-edge by any means, they offer enough performance for many mainstream PC users, and consequently, helped Intel gain market share in the graphics race. Ivy Bridge further improves the situation with a more powerful graphics core outfitted with additional execution units and DX11 support. Whereas Intel’s HD 3000 offers 12 EUs, Ivy Bridge’s HD 4000 engine has 16.
If you ask an everyday gamer, he'll probably tell you the PC graphics market is basically a two-horse race between AMD's Radeon and Nvidia's GeForce. Ask a financial analyst and you'll get a different answer: the beancounters think that the graphics market is less of a race and more of a massacre, with Intel playing the role of Leatherface and Ivy Bridge's integrated graphics acting as the chainsaw that delivers the death blow.
They say two heads are better than one, but in processors with integrated graphics -- think Intel's Sandy Bridge or AMD's APUs -- the GPU and CPU actually do very little communicating. For the most part, the GPU does its thing while the CPU knocks about on something else. There has to be something better! And as it turns out, there is: a group of researchers from North Carolina State University recently coaxed CPUs and GPUs on integrated processors into helping each other out, and they report a performance boost of over 20 percent as a result.
Intel's all-in with its Sandy Bridge platform, and AMD would rather talk about its Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) than anything else. And if you're building a rig for your mom and pop for Christmas (or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or just in general), you're probably eying up one of these two platforms and won't consider a discrete GPU. Scenarios like this one might help explain why discrete GPU shipments are down.
AMD currently has two Llano desktop APUs on the market, with four more chips scheduled for release later this year. A product roadmap recently discovered inside MSI marketing material has already shed light on three of the four upcoming chips. As for the fourth one, our friends over at Fudzilla now claim to have all the details.
MSI dabbles in both motherboards and graphics cards (as well as other components and products), and maybe that gives them an advantage when it comes to building boards for AMD's upcoming Fusion processors. Whether or not that's the case, MSI isn't bashful about laying claim to the "world's fastest mainboard with integrated graphics," the newly released A75MA-G55 built around AMD's FM1 socket.
Everyone expects Intel’s 32nm Sandy Bridge chips with on-die graphics to shed their “upcoming” tag at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, when the chip maker is officially supposed to launch the new CPU range. But that didn’t stop Malaysian computer retailer Compuzone from flaunting pictures of some members of the Sandy Bridge family on its Facebook page, claiming that it already has them in stock. While the photographs have since been taken down, the Sandy Bridge chips along with Socket 1155 motherboards might already be on sale there.
Loud bellows can be heard at the ongoing Computex tradeshow in the Taiwanese capital. Nvidia is the one making all the noise with a bagful of Ion-based small form factor products. There are 21 Ion-based products being showcased at the event, including the Acer Desktop AspireRevo, Asus All-in-one eeeTop ET2002 and MSI All-in-one Windtop AE2201. Many of these products had not been heard of prior to Computex. The Ion platform has been at the receiving end of Intel’s contempt. But even Intel must be keenly observing the first wave of Ion-based products at Computex.