Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Subject: Systems | June 20, 2013 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hwlb, Richland, haswell
It has been quite a long time since we have seen new processors on the HWLB, Ivy Bridge has enjoyed a long reign as the most powerful consumer chip for high end and mid-range machines and the A10 -5800K Trinity has been on the Low End machine since its initial release. All three system recommendations have now change with the release of Haswell and Richland.
Starting with the most affordable machine, the $455 Low End machine is now powered by the brand new AMD A8-6600K Richland, not the fast chip but a good compromise if you insist on picking up a discrete GPU for hybrid Crossfire. If you skip that GPU you can opt to spend $30 for the A10-6800K and reduce the total cost of the system by $35. MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 motherboard will provide a stable platform to run on but please update the BIOS to take full advantage of Richland's new features.
The Mid-Range system has moved up to Haswell, perhaps not a great upgrade from an existing Ivy Bridge system but perfect for a new build. The i5-4670K is the lowest priced unlocked chip from Intel, a good choice considering the lockdown on overclocking on the non-K parts. MSI's Z87-G43 was chosen for the flexibility of output ports but it does only sport a single 16x PCIe slot, if you expect to upgrade to a system with dual GPUs the 4670K would be a bottleneck and you are better off saving your pennies for the High End system. Also new is the XFX Double D HD 7870 GHz and Block Edition which sports a custom cooling solution to go with its hefty factory overclock. This system offers you a lot of ways to tweak performance and if you are just starting to dabble in overclocking this system would be a great place to start.
Intel has finally dethroned the i7-3770K which lasted longer than just about any other part has on the HWLB, the new i7-4770K is now available with the wide variety of new features offered by Haswell. The chip also needs a new home and the very impressive, and golden, ASUS Z87-EXPERT is perfect for this chip as it sports a huge amount of SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and audio ports along with PCIe 16x and Thunderbolt. Also new this month is NVIDIA's GTX770 which will offer you all the performance of the GTX680 but at the same price as the previous pick, the GTX 670.
The Dream system remains mostly unchanged for now, Ivy Bridge E just offers more power for the truly extreme user. Keep your eye out for updates though, there are more releases scheduled this year that could make it onto the PCPer HWLB!
Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.
Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.
While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.
Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.
In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.
From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | June 20, 2013 - 12:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, gtx 650, giada
Giada Technology has launched a new small form factor desktop PC with its upcoming D2308. The successor to the Giada D2305, the D2308 is a tiny PC that can be used for a variety of workloads. The mini PC, with up to a 70W system TDP, features an Intel "Haswell" processor and a discrete NVIDIA GPU (most likely mobile parts), which makes it a fairly powerful machine for the size!
The D2308 is enclosed in a black chassis with curved edges. Three Wi-Fi antennas stick up from the back of the PC. It looks rather like a home router or the mintBox PC, actually.
Internally, the Giada D2308 uses an Intel Core-i5 or Core i7 Fourth Generation Core CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 650 GPU with 1GB of video memory, up to 16GB DDR3 memory (in two SODIMM slots), a Realtek ALC662 5.1 HD audio codec, TPM module support, and two mini-PCI-E connectors for things like wireless cards or storage drives. The SFF PC can also accommodate a single 2.5" mechanical hard drive or SSD.
According to eTeknix, external IO includes two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, a SD card reader, two HDMI video outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and analog audio outputs. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
I have reached out to Giada for more information on the small form factor PC, but did not hear back from them in time for publication. I will update this post if the company responds to our questions. Although the D2308 is not a fan-less PC, it appears to have good hardware and would do well at a variety of HTPC, desktop, or office PC tasks.
Update: A Giada PC representative responded to our request for more information to let us know that the SFF PC uses the fourth generation Core i5/i7 processors and HM87 chipset along with NVIDIA GTX 650 graphics. It should be available towards the end of July.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 19, 2013 - 04:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: haswell, c6, c7, power supply, evga
Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processors are now official, and additional power supply manufacturers have since stepped up to provide their own Haswell PSU compatibility lists. EVGA is the latest PSU vendor to do so, announcing that all of tits SuperNOVA branded units are fully compatible with the new CPUs and new C6 and C7 sleep states.
The following EVGA power supplies are compatible with Haswell and the lowest power (0.05A) sleep states:
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 1500 Classified (120-PG-1500-XR/VR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX750G Gold (120-PG-0750-GR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX750B Bronze (120-PB-0750-KR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX650G Gold (120-PG-0650-GR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA 1300 G2 (120-G2-1300-XR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G2 (120-G2-1000-XR)
The list of compatible units spans across the range of SuperNOVA PSUs, from 650W to the monstrous 1500W model.
For a refresher on Haswell’s new C6 and C7 sleep states, check out our previous coverage of the issue as well as coverage of compatible PSUs from other vendors.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 17, 2013 - 08:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: haswell, Intel, Second Opinion
Ryan reviewed the Core i7 4770K earlier in the month and found it an impressive product. He was not able to properly test the CPU paired with a discrete GPU because of time restraints; we value results measured from direct monitor output, which takes longer than FRAPS and other software results. Still, Ryan believes that the boost in raw CPU performance justifies its existence in desktops without a funky "-E" tagged along for good luck.
For a second opinion, you could check NitroWare to see what a cynical Aussie thinks of Intel's latest offering. Of note, they compare software-measured frame rates between the on-chip GPU and those measured from a GTX 460 on Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell. He is nothing if not thorough, collecting his findings over 20 pages.
Ultimately he finds that if you are running Ivy Bridge, you will not benefit too much from the upgrade; Sandy Bridge users and earlier, on the other hand, might want to consider this platform... unless they are wanting to jump into the enthusiast-slot offerings coming up late this year and Haswell-E late the following year.
Also be sure to check back when we have our frametime measurements complete!
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The GIGABYTE Z87X- UD3H is one of the newest members of the GIGABYTE Intel Z87 product lineup. The board features a fully redesigned power system, dubbed Ultra Durable 5 Plus, designed to handle the power needs for an LGA1150 CPU under any circumstances. At a retail price of 189.99, the Z87X-UD3H remains ahead of the curve with an aggresive price point.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The Z87X-UD3H comes standard with an 8-phase digital power delivery system, featuring International Rectifier (IR) manufactured PowIRstage™ ICs and PWM controllers. GIGABYTE integrated the following feature set into the Z87X-UD3H: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an Intel GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to dual-card support; three PCI-Express x1 slots; one PCI slot; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, and switch BIOS buttons; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Intel Prevents Overclocking of non-K Haswell Processors, and Strips Virtualization and TSX Features From K Parts
Subject: Processors | June 13, 2013 - 09:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tsx, overclocking, Intel, i7-4770k, haswell
First revealed at IDF Beijing, Intel's latest generation 4th Generation Core "Haswell" processors enjoy a refined architecture, improved processor graphics, an integrated voltage regulator (FIVR), and for the enthusiast crowd, new methods for overclocking.
In truth, the methods for overclocking Haswell are very similar to those used to overclock Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. However, Intel has further unlocked the new Haswell CPUs. Enthusiasts can set an overclocked Turbo clockspeed, use additional base clock (BCLK) values (100 MHz, 125 MHz, and 167 MHz), and overclock the unlocked processor graphics core clockspeed and memory clockspeed (memory in 200 MHz or 266 MHz steps). The additional BCLK values allow for easy overclocks without putting the other subsystems (such as the PCI-E bus, GPU, and memory) out of spec, which is important for the PCI-E bus which needs to be close to 100 MHz for a stable system.
The following PC Perspective articles have further information on overclocking unlocked "K" edition Haswell processors:
- Integrated Voltage Regulator and Overclocking Haswell - Ryan pushes a Core i7-4770K to 4.6GHz
- Intel Talks Haswell Overclocking at IDF Beijing - Intel outlines overclocking features of Haswell at IDF
Although Intel's overclocking reveal at IDF was fairly detailed, the company did not get into specifics on how overclocking would work on non-K chips.
On that note, the crew over at the Tech Report uncovered some rather disheartening facts such that the non-K edition Haswell processors will, essentially, be locked at stock speeds and not overclockable (they are slightly more locked down than previous generations).
While the K edition Haswell processors, such as the Core i7-4770K, will enjoy unlocked multipliers, unlocked GPU and memory clockspeeds, and additional BCLK options, the standard non-K chips (ie Core i7-4770, Core i5-4670, et al) will have locked multipliers, no Turbo Boost clockspeed overclocking, and will not be allowed to use the additional 125 MHz and 167 MHz BLCK options, which effectively makes overclocking these standard chips impossible. It may still be possible to push the BLCK up a few MHz, but without the extra
stepping and gearing ratio options, the other component clockspeeds based off that same base clock are going to go out of spec and will become unstable fairly quickly as you try to push that BLCK up.
There is one saving grace for enthusiasts considering a non-K part, however. The standard non-K CPUs will have Intel's latest TSX extensions and enterprise virtualization technologies enabled.
Although quite the head scratcher, Intel has decided to disable TSX, vPro, and VT-d on the unlocked K edition chips. The TSX extensions are not widely used yet, but will provide a noticeable performance boost to future programs that do take advantage of them by allowing developers to essentially mark off sections of code that can be run independently, and thus increase the multi-threaded-ness of the application by running as much code in parallel across multiple cores as possible. Further, the vPro and VT-d features are used by virtual machine applications (with VT-d being more relevant to the consumer side of things).
In short, Intel has continued to lock down and artificially limit its chips, as many enthusiasts suspected would happen. Standard non-K Haswell processors are more locked down than ever, and even the premium unlocked K CPUs suffer with the (odd) removal of TSX and virtualization support. As Mr. Gasior points out, enthusiasts are going to be faced with an odd choice where they can either spend extra money on a premium K part that will overclock but is limited in other ways, or go with the lower cost part that has all of the ISA extensions and virtualization support turned on... but is not overclockable.
In my opinion, locking down the standard chips is one thing-- Intel needs to incentivize enthusiasts to go with the more expensive (~$25 premium) unlocked K processors some how -- but if those same enthusiasts are spending extra money for a premium chip, they should get all the features the accompanying non-K SKU has as well as overclocking.
What do you think about the artificial limitations placed on the various Haswell SKUs?
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:47 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: E3, razer, blade, haswell, gtx 765m, geforce
With the launch of Intel's Haswell processor, accessory maker-turned notebook vendor Razer announced a pretty slick machine, the Blade. Based on a quad-core, 37 watt Core i7 Haswell CPU and a GeForce GTX 765M GPU, the Razer Blade packs a lot of punch.
It also includes 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, an mSATA SSD and integrates a 14-in 1600x900 display. The design of the unit looks very similar to that of the MacBook Pro but the black metal finish is really an attractive style change.
The embedded battery is fairly large at 70 Whr and Razer claims this will equate to a 6 hour battery life when operating non-gaming workloads. With a weight just barely creeping past 4 lbs, the Razer Blade is both portable and powerful it seems.
The price tag starts at $1799 so you won't be able to pick one of these up on the cheap, but for users like me that are willing to pay a bit more for performance and style in a slim chassis, the Blade seems like a very compelling option. There are a lot of questions left to answer on this notebook including the thermal concerns of packing that much high frequency silicon into a thin and light form factor. Does the unit get hot in bad places? Can the screen quality match the performance of Haswell + Kepler?
We are working with Razer to get a model in very soon to put it to the test and I am looking forward to answering if we have found the best gaming portable on the market.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 12, 2013 - 08:04 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: ultrabook, sandisk, Samsung, pci-e ssd, Marvell, MacBook Air, macbook, haswell, apple
As Scott covered earlier this week, Apple quietly announced an update to the MacBook Air line along side the headline-grabbing Mac Pro redesign preview. Being a MacBook Air user for the past 2 years, I decided it was time to replace my Sandy Bridge-based model with some new Haswell goodness. Today marked the first day of retail store availability, and I picked up an 11" model with 256GB SSD.
Naturally, when I got back to the office there was only one route to take, installing Windows and disassembling it. While Anand uncovered the fact that these MacBooks were hiding a new unadvertised option, in a PCI-Express based SSD, I wanted to check it out for myself.
When I did some digging, I discovered that while Anand found a Samsung based SSD in his MacBook, mine actually contained a model by Sandisk. I did a quick initial benchmark in OS X, and proceeded to inspect the hardware itself.