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Intel Haswell iGPU: there’s something for everyone

There are conflicting reports about Haswell graphics speedup above the Ivy Bridge one, which one may turn true?

Quite a few web sites, including our own, covered Haswell graphics prospects over the past few months, with source materials obtained from Intel's roadmaps and such. On one side, the argument was that the generic – mainstream – quad-core Haswell version, the one likely to see the light of the day first in the second quarter of 2013, will very likely have graphics less than half faster than than the quad core Ivy Bridge it replaces. The other side had a statement that the best Haswell graphics should be well over two times, if not more, faster, than the Ivy Bridge.

Actually, both might be right – how come? There are three graphics varieties expected for Haswell – GT1, GT2 and, the fastest, GT3. The latter one is expected to have twice as many shaders as the GT2, however some of leaked documents show that particular graphics implementation as existing only on dual core Haswell flavours. For instance, you'd have a combination of quad CPU cores and GT2 graphics, or dual CPU cores and GT3 graphics. Or, for top end Ultrabooks, dual CPU cores and GT2 graphics… oh my, how many die varieties would be there then?

If this ends up the case, it explains it all: the standard quad-core Haswell with GT2 would be somewhat, but not madly, faster in graphics than the Ivy Bridge, while the graphics-oriented dual-core GT3 part with much larger GPU will correspondingly bring along much faster GPU – including GPU compute, since Haswell is expected to support it. But then, with all the transistor budgets and 22 nm process on hand, what stops Intel from having the ultimate combination of quad CPU cores and GT3 graphics together – a lovely solution both for high end desktop and engineering workstation? The time will tell if this might be the hidden weapon Intel keeps under the hood…

Nebojsa Novakovic
In the spare time over the past two decades, editor and writer of high-end computer hardware and design features and analysis for European and US media and analyst houses. Reviews of high end hardware are my specialty for 28 years already.

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