I don’t think I had a good grasp on why Intel’s Haswell launch felt so weird until now. Haswell less than a month after the arrival of a new CEO, and it shows up a couple of weeks after the abrupt change in leadership within the Intel Architecture Group. Dramatic change at the top is always felt several levels below.

To make matters worse, there are now four very important Haswell families that need to be validated, tested, launched and promoted. There’s desktop Haswell, mobile Haswell, ultramobile Haswell ULT (U-series) and Haswell ULX (tablet, Y-series). The number one explanation I’m getting for why we don’t have a socketed K-series SKU with Crystalwell is that everyone is already too busy validating all of the other variants of Haswell that have to launch as soon as possible.

Unlike previous architectures where Intel spanned the gamut of TDPs, Haswell is expected to have success in pretty much all of the segments and as a result, getting everything out on time is very important.

As anyone who has tried to do too much with too little time/resources knows, these types of stories typically don’t end well. The result is one of the more disorganized launches in Intel history and it seems to be caused by dramatic changes at the top of the company combined with a very aggressive to-do list down below.

Haswell is viewed, at least by some within Intel, as a way to slow the bleeding of the PC industry. The shift of consumer dollars to smartphones and tablets instead of notebooks and desktops won’t be reversed, but a good launch here might at least help keep things moving ok until Silvermont, BayTrail and Merrifield can show up and fill the gaps in Intel’s product stack.

Haswell Ultrabook Requirements
  2013 Requirement
Wake < 3 seconds from S4 sleep
Standby >= 7 days standby with fresh data (Connected Standby or Intel Smart Connect)
Idle Battery Life >= 9 hours Windows idle
Video Playback >= 6 hours HD Video Playback (1080p local video)
Software Anti-virus, Anti-malware (Win 8 Defender is ok), Intel anti-theft protection & identity theft protection
Networking 2x2 802.11n minimum + Intel WiDi
Voice Voice Command/Control Hardware Ready (dual-array microphone baseline)
Display Touch screen
Thickness < 23mm for 14" and above
< 20mm 13.3" and below
(convertibles include the thickness of both pieces)
Storage 16GB of Solid State Storage minimum, 16K PCMark Vantage Score, 80MB/s sequential transfer

So Haswell is important, Intel management is in a state of flux, and there’s a lot of Haswell to bring to market. The result? We get a staggered launch, with only some parts ready to go immediately. Interestingly enough, it’s the high-end Haswell desktop parts that are most ready at this point. The stakes are high enough that we had to resort to testing a customer reference platform in order to evaluate Intel’s new Iris Pro graphics. And today, we had to track down a pre-production Haswell Ultrabook in Taiwan to even be able to bring you this review of Haswell ULT.

I’ve spent the past few days in Taipei hunting for bandwidth, running tests in my hotel room and trying my best to understand all there is to know about Haswell ULT, the third Haswell I outlined in our microarchitecture piece last year.

On-Package PCH, The First Single Chip Haswell
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  • Rogatti - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    GPU Intel.........no thanks !!!!!

    Kaveri ... where is you !!! ... do not let me down !
    Reply
  • A5 - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Anything based on Steamroller isn't going to be able to touch these battery life numbers.

    If you don't care about battery life, you can get much better value for your money outside of the ultrabook form factor.
    Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    The GPU performance is slowly creeping up to AMD; AMD won't be able to use their GPU as a crutch much longer. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Just the ridiculously lower price. Reply
  • kyuu - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Yeah, because AMD isn't going to be improving their iGPU tech at all...? Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    not really, intel currently uses an abnormal 180mm2 of die area on 22nm (hd5000) for the same perfomance and efficiency of an 80mm2 28nm amd gpu.
    the are trying to go all out, but their gpu tech basically sucks
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Where'd you see the analysis of how much space HD5000 takes? I haven't seen anything on that. Maybe I just missed it...

    180mm2 of die area for Haswell ULT total is what's been reported, and AMD's Trinity 4C at 28nm is 246mm2. The number of transistors in each is basically identical. The difference comes in where Intel and AMD spend transistors. I'd wager that AMD spends more transistors in GPU, and Intel spends more in CPU.

    To be frank, I don't see how you can assert that Intel's <90mm2 of graphics on an integrated chip has appreciably lower efficiency than any other mobile part on the market. I could be wrong, but I just don't see it as that far off.
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Never mind. Found Anand's analysis. There's no way that's correct though. If 1/2 of GT3 takes up 87mm2, then full GT3 takes up 174mm2. Haswell 2C ULT is a 184mm2 die. There's no way the GPU takes up 90% of the chip. Over half, sure. but 90% is ridiculously high. Something in the 75-80% range is the absolute highest I'd expect. Reply
  • Homeles - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    A bit disappointed to see the CPU performance largely stand pat compared to Ivy bridge, but it nailed the one major thing that mattered: battery life.

    GPU performance isn't awfully inspiring either. I suppose that I won't see the performance gains I was hoping for until Broadwell.

    Oh well. I suppose Fall IDF isn't too far away.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Well, i7-4500U is clocked 100mhz slower, but haswell IPC is about 10% better, so obviously CPU performance is not going to differ by much.

    GPU performance for HD5000 is pretty much what was expected from early intel slides. Iris pro is what was touted as performing up to 'more than 2x' performance.
    Reply

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