Home Business Telecommunications Everything old is a has been – now everyone wants Haswell

Everything old is a has been – now everyone wants Haswell

Intel has officially launched the 4th generation Haswell range of central processing units (CPUs). Here is an overview of the launch.

First you may want to read the iTWire article about should you wait for a Haswell? In essence Haswell is about more [horse] power using less [watts] power. So for the vast number of power point dependent desktop computers Haswell is a non-issue and it is safe to continue to buy 3rd generation processors instead on other criteria like price.

Over the next six months all new PCs (and the term includes desktop, notebooks, hybrids and convertibles) will be Haswell based so I repeat - if you don’t need extra battery life now don’t wait – grab a bargain 3rd generation CPU.

The CPU uses 22 nm (nano metre) wafers and as such it draws less current so it runs at lower temperatures. This is ideal for notebooks, tablets and hybrids.

There will be several versions

  • Desktop, dual or quad core called Haswell-DT uses a LGA 1150 socket. These draw in excess of 47 W.
  • Notebook, dual or quad core called a Haswell-MB and uses a PGA947 socket. These draw from 13.5 W
  • UltraBook dual core SOC (system on a chip) called Haswell-ULX and ULT and uses a BGA1364 socket. These draw from 10 W.

Graphics Processor Units (GPU)

The LGA and PGA versions allow for use of a separate GPU like NVidia Geforce or AMD Radeon although some desktop versions will come with Intel Graphics and that is fine for most business use.

The BGA (Ultrabook and tablet) uses an integrated Intel HD 5XXX or HD 4XXX GPU.

Just to confuse you there will be four Intel GPU versions – GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 with corresponding increasing numbers of cores (called execution units) and memory cache.

Battery Life

Haswell has three power states – Active, Sleep and Idle. A lot of things can be done in Sleep like push updates and notifications, answering calls etc. This is the prime difference to 3rd generation – approximately 50% more use on a battery charge.

But the CPU is only part of the equation and until OLED screens (no backlight required) and lower current draw for hard disks and memory Haswell is not the panacea.

CPU Versions – too many to list all so here is a selection. See here for details.

i3 is a dual core with 4 threads (hyper threading), 3MB cache and Intel GPU so it won’t be a slouch. Clock speed/Graphics/Watts include:

4010Y (1.3GHz, HD4200, 11.5W); 4010U (1.7GHz, HD4400, 15W), 4100U (1.8Ghz, HD4400, 15W) and 4158U (2GHz, Iris 5100, 28W). Expect to see more of these in desktops and lower cost notebooks.

i5 is range of dual and quad core with 4 hyper threads. These are scalable meaning that the clock speed can be changed – for convenience I will use the term turbo. The 15W versions will be in Ultrabooks and the 64W in notebooks and desktops.

Speed/Turbo/Graphics/Watts include

Dual core 3M cache - 4250U (2, 1.3/2.6, HD500, 15W), 4350U (2, 1.4/2.9, HD5000, 15W)
Quad core 4M cache - 4570R (4, 2.7/3.2, Iris Pro 5200, 65W) 4670R (3/3.7, Iris Pro 5200, 65W)

i7 is a faster quad core processor with 8 hyper threads and as such will consume the most power. All have 6MB cache, Iris Pro 5200 graphics and a turbo mode.

Speed/Turbo/Watts:

4750HQ (2/3.2, 47W), 4850HQ (2.3/3.5, 47W), 4950HQ (2.4/3.6, 47W) and 4770R (3.2/3.9, 65W).

i7 Extreme edition is a gaming and ultra-high performance CPU that can be pushed to over perform. I won’t go into any specifications here but expect to see brands like Leader, Alienware (Dell), Razer and Scorptec showing off some pretty high end notebooks and desktops where power consumption is the least of your concern.

vPro for business

A final note about processors – you may see the term vPro on some i5 and i7 processors. In brief these have special security features built in to use in enterprise where sensitive data is concerned. In summary VPro has (full article here).

  • Locational based services
  • Rapid Start
  • Smart Connect
  • Encryption
  • Trusted Execution technology
  • Boot and OS guard
  • Virtualisation technology
  • High compatibility with McAfee Deep Defender, DeepSAFE, ePolicy Orchestrator and similar programs.
  • And a whole range of security features.

Now to the new form factors

Intel UltraBook Shark Bay reference design - June 2013 (Haswell). The device must meet or exceed specifications including:

  • 10-14” Touch (usually 1080p or could be up to Ultra HD 4K) and Windows 8.x
  • Laptop or convertible tablet format (via a 360 degree hinge or slider)
  • i5 or i7 Haswell SOC (10-15W power consumption for fanless design)
  • 4/8GB ram and 128/256/512GB SSD (micro SD option)
  • Background push notifications for email and social media
  • Identity and anti-theft technology
  • Thin – less than 23mm and many will be around 15mm and under 1.8kg
  • 9 hours Windows, 6 hours HD video and at least 7 days with fresh data
  • Instant on (3 seconds from hibernate)
  • Wi-Fi N (or AC), Bluetooth 4.0, WiDi
  • HDMI out
  • USB 3, 3.5mm audio/mic
  • Voice command
  • Context aware sensors
  • Optionally microLAN connector (usually done via a USB to RJ-45 LAN cable)
  • Backlit keyboard

At the Intel launch we saw more than 30 new Haswell based Ultrabooks. Availability will be over the next few months.

Sliders

I think Sliders are the best compromise format as they tend to be better to use on your lap or desk (Ultrabook designs can tip over as they are hinged at the back but sliders have a different mid or 2/3 hinge system).

I very much like the Sony Vaio 13 and LG Tab-Book 11 sliders. The key difference here is that the screen is “dumb” with all the electronics built into the slider base to lower the point of gravity.

Tablets

The best known tablet is the Microsoft Surface Pro and it will get a Haswell update by year end. But there are better value Haswell tablets coming from most manufacturers. I see that the ultrathin tablet (with or without a keyboard dock) will be the domain of Intel’s new Atom system on a chip to really give extended battery life and Haswell Core processors will be mainly seen in hybrid/convertible/Ultrabook devices.

Intel ‘all-in-one’ or ‘two-in-one’ desktop

As these are not portable devices the emphasis is on Touch, Core i3, i5 or i7 and 22” or larger screens. You will find these coming from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo mainly aimed at business use but some models will have fold flat screens to act as table top computers and these are good for home or gaming like ‘pub pong’ or ‘shuttle’.

Make no mistake all-in-one designs will, in time, consign the beige or black box PC to the scrapheap.

Windows 8 – not a lame dog but slow to start

A curious journalist asked why Intel still supported Windows (instead of Mac or Linux) and the response was noticeably politic.

Intel is a chip maker first and foremost and its chips power Windows, Mac, Linux and Android devices. Its chip designs are customised and optimised to suit the OS.

Later one of Intel’s Tech types gave me his insight into the Windows comment. “Windows 8 was a transitionary OS to enable touch. It has sold more than 100 million copies and driven more new form factors than ever before. Windows 8.1 will address some of the alienation that non-touch users experienced”.

It is clear to me after seeing more than 30 Haswell devices at the launch with hundreds more to come in the next six months that Windows is far from dead at least in the business and BYOD space. Things like vPro will help solve a lot of BYOD issues and hybrids/convertibles are the hot market right now.

Yes Windows has lost the consumer tablet race to Apple iPad and Android tablets but Intel’s Atom Clover Trail+ now powers the world’s fastest smartphone – the Lenovo K900 and Atom based tablets running Windows 8.1 may just turn the BYOD tablet tide as well.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!