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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  • Homeles - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Maybe you didn't catch on with Anand's "I was running this in my hotel room" statement, but the idea was to get the anxiously awaited battery life numbers out to the public. Reply
  • seapeople - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    You mean a hotel room in Taiwan is not the normal procedure for a pedantically complete review? Reply
  • ciparis - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    OT: Opening paragraph typo: "Haswell less than a month after the arrival of a new CEO," Reply
  • jhoff80 - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    I know you said that you disabled any Display Power Savings options in the Intel driver, but still, out of curiosity, it would be interesting to know what kind of effect those have. I mean, it wasn't made explicit, but does this specific ultrabook support Panel Self Refresh? If so, what improvements does that give? Reply
  • yoyoma245 - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why battery life increased going from pcmark8 home to pcmark8 creative. Wouldn't a more demanding test suite result in reduced battery life? Reply
  • meacupla - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Could Minecraft be added to benchmarks for ultrabooks?
    HD5000 is obviously quite pitiful at eye candy games, so how about popular games that are most likely to be played on them?

    I get around 34~40fps with surface pro, which is playable, but could be better.
    Reply
  • esgreat - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    I don't think I've seen benchmarks for HD5000 yet. The i7-4500u uses HD4400 graphics.

    With 2x the EUs, HD5000 should give quite a performance boost, but not as fast as Iris.
    Reply
  • krumme - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    Haswell U improves excactly where it was needed; on the battery life. This segment dont need more cpu power or gpu power than ib, they want battery life.
    This is the luxury product that ultrabooks are made for.
    Haswell for the desktop was utterly unimportant, but this is excellent targeted and a very tangible improvement for everyone.
    Reply
  • name99 - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    "Haswell for the desktop was utterly unimportant"
    Uhh, well apart from defining a rather different parallel programming model going forward...
    Reply
  • krumme - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Yes. Thats relevant in perhaps 5 years from now. Perhaps. Its a technology and innovative huge step forward, but hardly of any pratical importange to the consumers today. Reply

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