Intel 4th Gen Processors – Haswell

Haswell is the codename for a processor microarchitecture under development by Intel’s Oregon team as the successor to the Ivy Bridge architecture. Using the 22 nm process, Intel is expected to release CPUs based on this microarchitecture on June 4, 2013. With Haswell, Intel will introduce a new low-power processor designed for convertible or ‘hybrid’ Ultrabooks, having the Y suffix. Intel demonstrated a working Haswell chip at the 2011 Intel Developer Forum.



What is Haswell?

Haswell is the code-name used by Intel when referring to its forthcoming chipset. It is the successor to the Ivy Bridge architecture.

Intel chipsets alternate between a “tick-tock” release cycle.

A “tick” represents the shrinking of the process used to build chips whereas a “tock” is the building of a new micro-architecture.

Haswell is classified as a “tock” in this cycle.

Upon release the chips will officially be known as the 4th Generation Intel Core processors.


Battery life

The holy grail of all-day battery life within laptops could finally be upon us when Haswell arrives.

Intel is claiming up to 13 hours of battery life, with 10 hours a realistic possibility for devices such as Ultrabooks.

The chipmaker has worked hard to make the fourth generation Core i chips as energy efficient as possible. The firm will offer a processor that will use 10 watts, half the power of its predecessor.

Haswell chips will have 3 power states, compared to two in its predecessor, Ivy Bridge. These will be Active, Sleep, and Active Idle. Intel claims the advanced power saving system will help give it at least 20x power consumption improvement over Ivy Bridge and provide faster resume times.


Graphics performance is expected to be double that of Ivy Bridge chips and sequential CPU performance could increase by up to 10 per cent.

Tom’s Hardware has benchmarked a high-end Core i7-4770K part ahead of launch, comparing it to the previous generation Ivy Bridge.

In the various tests, Haswell showed significant improvement when it came to gaming, but commonly used tasks such as converting video, music and documents didn’t show too much of an increase.


Update: Intel has since drip-fed more information about performance. Integrated graphics performance of the Haswell part is set to be up to three times as powerful as the previous Ivy Bridge chip.

The performance of the integrated graphics within Haswell will vary depending on how much power the processor draws. Intel’s standard HD 5000 graphics will be included in 15 watt chips. The Iris Graphics 5100 and Iris Pro graphics 5200 will provide better performance (nearly 3x in the case of the 5200) but will also draw more power.

This means laptops packing Haswell will be able to support 4K video (3840 x 2160 resolution), which is a four times the resolution of current HD.



Haswell chips will power servers and desktops as well as next-generation Ultrabooks.

HP is one of the first manufacturers to unveil devices running the chipset.

The TouchSmart 14 Ultrabook that will be availlable with an optional 14in 3,200 x 1,800 display, placing it head-to-head with the likes of the Chromebook Pixel and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Meanwhile, the Envy 17 will pack a 17.3in screen with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 2TB of storage and four speakers with Beats Audio.

Haswell is also expected to be used in hybrid designs, but it is unclear at this time whether Intel or an OEM will utlise it to power any standalone tablets.

Release date

Intel is tipped to officially launch Haswell chips during Computex in Taiwan at the start of June.

Speaking at Intel’s Developer Forum in Beijing, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC client group at Intel confirmed the processors will start shipping in Q2.


TBC. Some online vendors such as The PC SuperStore have put up a price list for Core i5 and i7 parts. Prices range from $197 for the Core i5 4430 to $368 for the high-end Core i7 4770K. It remains to be seen whether these are radically different when the chips go on sale.


Breaking down the results

The Haswell laptops we’ve reviewed thus far offer a clear verdict. Battery life has improved overall, but results will vary.

Both the near-idle Reader’s Test and Web browsing Peacekeeper benchmark show battery life consistent with Intel’s claim of an up to 50 percent improvement compared to 3rd-gen processors. In fact, the near-idle test makes that look like a conservative number, as Acer’s Aspire M5 improved by just over 65 percent. If you’ve been holding off on buying an Ultrabook because you’d like better battery life, the new 4th-gen Core lineup may be what you were waiting for.

With that said, life at load hasn’t changed at all. Haswell is great for mobility, but it’s no miracle. Heavy workloads will still cut through a battery like butter.

Intel deserves credit for what it has accomplished, as this is almost certainly the largest generation-over-generation improvement in laptop battery life ever achieved. Yet, at the same time, these results hint at the limitations of the world’s most powerful consumer CPU. These numbers still depict a product that’s much better suited for laptops than tablets or 2-in-1s; we may have to wait until the new Atom architecture debuts later this year to see significant progress from Intel on that front.


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