Intel Announces Haswell Graphics Details and New Iris Graphics

Manufacturer: Intel

The Intel HD Graphics are joined by Iris

Intel gets a bad wrap on the graphics front.  Much of it is warranted but a lot of it is really just poor marketing about the technologies and features they implement and improve on.  When AMD or NVIDIA update a driver or fix a bug or bring a new gaming feature to the table, they are sure that every single PC hardware based website knows about and thus, that as many PC gamers as possible know about it.  The same cannot be said about Intel though - they are much more understated when it comes to trumpeting their own horn.  Maybe that's because they are afraid of being called out on some aspects or that they have a little bit of performance envy compared to the discrete options on the market. 

Today might be the start of something new from the company though - a bigger focus on the graphics technology in Intel processors.  More than a month before the official unveiling of the Haswell processors publicly, Intel is opening up about SOME of the changes coming to the Haswell-based graphics products. 

We first learned about the changes to Intel's Haswell graphics architecture way back in September of 2012 at the Intel Developer Forum.  It was revealed then that the GT3 design would essentially double theoretical output over the currently existing GT2 design found in Ivy Bridge.  GT2 will continue to exist (though slightly updated) on Haswell and only some versions of Haswell will actually see updates to the higher-performing GT3 options.  

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In 2009 Intel announced a drive to increase graphics performance generation to generation at an exceptional level.  Not long after they released the Sandy Bridge CPU and the most significant performance increase in processor graphics ever.  Ivy Bridge followed after with a nice increase in graphics capability but not nearly as dramatic as the SNB jump.  Now, according to this graphic, the graphics capability of Haswell will be as much as 75x better than the chipset-based graphics from 2006.  The real question is what variants of Haswell will have that performance level...

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I should note right away that even though we are showing you general performance data on graphics, we still don't have all the details on what SKUs will have what features on the mobile and desktop lineups.  Intel appears to be trying to give us as much information as possible without really giving us any information. 

Read more on Haswell's new graphics core here.

That being said, what can we gleam from this data?  First, compare the 15W Haswell (Intel i7-4650U) to the 17W Ivy Bridge (i7-3687U) and you'll find a modest 10-25% increase in performance.  Though smaller than the 75x number we are seeing above this increase is impressive considering we are running at a lower TDP level.  The Core i7-4558U is a 28W part that is seeing 50-75% increases in older 3DMark tests and more than 2x in 3DMark11.  Considering the TDP offset, these are good but not amazing results.

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Things get more interesting and even more confusing here as we get into the higher powered notebook parts at the 45 watt level.  Comparing Haswell and Ivy Bridge you'll see two very different results.  The Core i7-4900MQ has the same kind of performance gains as the parts list above (10-25% in earlier 3DMark scores) but the Core i7-4950HQ sees jumps of 1.8x and 2.2x!  Why the difference?  While not disclosed in the meetings we are hearing that the H-series of parts will be the ones to include the embedded DRAM (now called High Speed Memory by Intel; seriously, not making that up).  The second 4950HQ result with a higher TDP of 55 watts sees improves things even more.

The inclusion of embedded DRAM (or eDRAM) on the chip with certain Haswell processors offers up some interesting performance and power tradeoffs.  The memory definitely increases power consumption and will likely mean slower CPU clock rates to meet the same 47 watt TDP levels show above (between standard and eDRAM versions of the Core i7-4900).  But the performance gains are astounding and could really remove the need for low-cost discrete graphics in mainstream notebooks.  Certain professional applications could also benefit greatly from the sharing of that cache data between GPU and GPU cores. 

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On the desktop side, we see a similar pattern.  The Core i7-4770K will be the enthusiasts CPU of choice but will not include the eDRAM for cost and power reasons.  The i7-4770R though will have that eDRAM in place and with it sees nearly 3x the performance of Core i7-3770K in these 3DMark results.  Obviously that part would be limited to users that do not want discrete graphics on their PCs, otherwise you would be wasting some valuable x86 performance for under-utilized graphics performance. Also, it turns out that the R-series of desktop parts will be BGA only, meaning you'll be purchasing either a complete system or a board/CPU comobo at the very least.

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Along with the showcasing of some new graphics benchmarks, Intel is announcing a new brand for its higher performing processor graphics options: Iris Graphics.  This brand will be used only on the top two highest levels of graphics in the upcoming 4th generation Intel Core processors.  Iris will exist along side the Intel HD Graphics name and will correspond only to SOME of the GT3 implementations of Haswell. 

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The 15 watt variant of Haswell with the GT3 architecture will now be called Intel HD Graphics 5000 while the 4600/4400/4200 will remain as the names for various GT2 implementations.  Intel Iris Graphics 5100 will point to a "full" GT3 implementations up to 28 watts and Iris Graphics 5200 will refer to GT3 with embedded DRAM, any various power consumption levels. 

Honestly, this doesn't really making things any less confusing than they have been, it just adds another brand divider.  The numeric scale will still be your best indication of relative performance though I already wonder if some HD graphics 4600 options will outperform the 15 watt version of the HD graphics 5000... 


We really need some more hands on time with the various new Intel processors to tell you what all of this means and how much it actually changes the performance outlook of Intel HD / Iris graphics compared to discrete solutions from NVIDIA and AMD.  This is really just a marketing and branding release today with enough numbers to make Intel customers and PC Perspective readers curious to know more. 

That all we have for you today but most of you know the time for the full Haswell architecture unveil is getting closer and closer.  We plan on having a METRIC TON of coverage here as we approach launch day so stay tuned to PC Perspective for more!


May 2, 2013 | 03:03 AM - Posted by Nilbog

I am actually looking forward to seeing the performance of the new GPUs more than the CPU its self.

May 2, 2013 | 04:18 AM - Posted by Justin 150 (not verified)

Love to see this in Haswell U chips in the NUC package. Current NUC runs too hot (or too loud if you turn up fan) for my liking but works really well as an HTPC, small server or work computer with moderate gaming requirements.

With extra graphics power and Intel using better quality thermal paste, I see little point in a large desktop

May 2, 2013 | 06:59 AM - Posted by rrr (not verified)

So judging by the performance graphs, what card tier would it be? Somewhere around 9600GT?

May 2, 2013 | 09:29 AM - Posted by Derek R. (not verified)

So does this mean that Intel has given up on or abandoned all future driver support for Intel HD 4000 graphics?

May 2, 2013 | 02:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why would you say that? Intel just posted new drivers a couple weeks back that added OCL1.2 + a nice perf (and perf/watt) improvement. Typically Intel suppports graphics in active update mode for at least two years after launch and IvyBridge launched about 1 year ago.

May 2, 2013 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If the drivers on your PC or Laptop Are Generic Intel HD graphics drivers, you will get updates, If the drivers have been customizied by the OEM then You are at the mercy of the OEM for graphics driver updates!

May 2, 2013 | 10:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, but on the Iris Pro graphics are the drivers going to be professional certified drivers or is this just one more Intel's amaze and confuse naming scheme! I serously doubt Intel's ability with graphics, given Intel's driver history, and yes Intel does update their Generic HD graphics drivers on a regular basis, but laptop OEMs hardly ever update their Intel non-genaric customizied HD graphics drivers, as 2 out of the 3 laptops, that I own, have never had a graphics driver update from the laptop's OEMs! Anyone doing serious graphics work or gaming is going to still need a discrete GPU, and I am going to wait and see what AMD is going to do with their APUs and HSA aware drivers!
Crom graphics company seems to be working in with HSA aware software that can use the CPU and the GPU simultaneously for graphics workflows!

May 2, 2013 | 02:46 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can always download the drivers from and install them using the "Have Disk" method. Problem solved- you don't have to be a victim here.

May 2, 2013 | 04:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Been there done that, Have disk is not a solution, had to roll back drivers, as have disk is not certified to work with my hardware, read the Intel disclaimer! what there needs to be is a legal requirement for Intel and OEMs to label laptops as having Intel Generic HD graphics drivers or not, so consumers can choose not to buy laptops without Generic Intel HD graphics drivers! laptop OEMs need to be chided on their lack of Customizied Intel HD graphics drivers updates, that only OEMs are able to do for Non-Generic drivers! Try asking a retail sales person for administrative privileges to download the software components from the Intel HD graphics update website that will tell if the graphics drivers are Intel Generic or not, good luck with that!

May 3, 2013 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The disclaimer is because OEMs dot want te costs of support calls from users who mess up installing driver update. I have a Lenovo laptop and routinely install the latest geeric drivers. Ia have disk with no issue. Listen- ignore the disclaimer and just do have disk.

May 3, 2013 | 09:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Did you not read the post, been there done that had stability problems after havedisk install! And it has nuthing to do with OEMs wanting fewer support calls, and more to do with OEMs reducing the functionality of the Intel hardware by not fully implementing all of the driver APIs for the new Intel GPUs! the OEMs do not want to spend the money to properly implement the graphics drivers, and keep their OEM modded drivers up to date, or maybe, the OEMs want you to have to buy new hardware to get the latest drivers, a sort of planned obsolescence via lack software updates (OEM customized Intel HD graphics driver updates).
The question of Intel and OEMs being required to supply the information to any potential buyer about the type of intel HD graphics driver (generic or non genaric) on a laptop before its is purchased is valid also!

May 7, 2013 | 11:12 AM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

If generic intel driver are causing issues, it would seem to me that your laptop OEM is using lower bin parts, read cheaper with less functionality, and so has a custom driver.

As you say it's difficult to know what your getting in a laptop, expecting to be able to update any drivers is probably beyond their responsibility - ie you get exactly the spec and functionality stated and any inference as to future functionality from better drivers is yours alone.

I'm glad I went back to desktops. and android tablets

May 2, 2013 | 02:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Also, Iris Pro doesn't have anything to do with "professional" in this context... Here, it simply means models that have the embedded DRAM.

May 2, 2013 | 04:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes that is Intel's verson of PRO, beacuse Intel graphics is not Professional, by any stretch of the imagination! how much DRAM is enough for a full frame Buffer, and what is the bandwidth on the on die DRAM! Twice the performence of not so good does not equate to great gaming performence! Any time anyone sees Intel compare Intel graphics to Intel graphics, that should set off the Marketing BS detectors! I guess the benchmarks Between AMD and Intel will tell in the end!

May 2, 2013 | 01:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It cracks me up, the comments on some of the other tech websites, people are calling Haswell graphics, workstation graphics, and that just shows that the understanding of graphics is not good among the average user! Any workstation without professional level drivers and GPUs (FirePro,Quadro) is not a workstation. Intel does not compete with AMD or Nvidia in the professional workstation market, and any talk of Haswell graphics being professional, like AMD's or Nvidia's professional GPU with their professional certified graphics drivers (pro certified drivers are why pro graphics cards cost so much more than gaming GPUs) is just stupid! Intel will not be able to compete with AMD's APUs and HSA for gaming, but for one area, the Intel CPU pared with either a Descrete AMD or Nvidia GPU! On the integrated graphics front, AMD will win, as Intel does not have the IP to compete with AMD in graphics! All AMD has to do is take their newer (And not necessarily AMD's newest) Graphics IP and pare it with their APUs and even Intel's Broadwell will not win!

May 2, 2013 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice try.. Intel has certification on a quite a few workstation applications. Official certification is for the Intel HD Graphics P4000 (Xeon branded IvyBridge). But the drivers and hardware are basically the same for all the consumer skus..

Quick google search shows the following Certifications:
 Professional OpenGL: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Elements, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Maya, SoftImage, AfterEffect
 Professional DirectX: Autodesk AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, 3ds Max, Microstation v8i, Showcase

May 2, 2013 | 04:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes and the AMD APU with firepro intrigrated graphics (A300/A320), beats the Xeon, so what about the GPUs on the Xeon, I have yet to see many workstation products with the Xeon "Pro" graphics!

May 2, 2013 | 02:45 PM - Posted by Poci

So sintel finally thinks they could give amd a challenge with integrated gpus?

May 3, 2013 | 10:35 AM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

So when are products with Haswell going to be available? Will this summers Windows Blue come With Haswell, or will we have to wait untill the holiday season.

May 16, 2013 | 03:40 AM - Posted by maxcellerate

WOW!!! 75x the graphics performance of a... wait for it... 2006 chip!!!

Now that's what I call marketing!!!

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