As David Perlmutter, Executive VP of Intel Architecture Group touched on in his opening keynote at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2012, Haswell is the talking point of this conference so far. In 2013 Intel plans on launching the fourth-generation Core processor, codenamed Haswell. Haswell represents the “tock” in Intel’s “tick-tock” development model: “Tocks” represent a redesign of a chip’s architecture, while “ticks” concentrate on shrinking its size.
Perlmutter said, “Haswell has been designed with energy efficiency and mobility in mind, which is a must for thin form factors (Ultrabooks) and day-long battery life”.
Ivy Bridge v Haswell
Perlmutter demonstrated a pre-production Haswell chip running a graphics test video. It compared the performance of Haswell vs. Ivy Bridge. Haswell’s performance appeared to be almost twice as fast as Ivy Bridge (a much smoother viewing experience).
Not only did the performance appear twice as fast but Haswell ran around 10 watts, about half of the Ivy Bridge processor’s power consumption. A noticeable improvement, although there is still scope to go lower with this and Intel aims to make this happen.
Haswell introduces advances in power optimisation. The S0ix active idle state works in the background and assumes your PC is sleeping but remains as responsive as if it was always on. You have a 20x improvement in the battery life with Haswell from quicker transitioning times, lower power consumption and excellent standby power. For example, if you are looking at a document or something on screen that is static, the device will go to sleep on all other programs. As soon as you interact with the device it will wake straight back up. No caffeine required.
The Haswell Family
Haswell is going to be used for a range of devices, from high end servers to form factors like tablets. At present Intel believes the market needs a converged core that has a single microarchitecture that scales from tablets to server. When the presenter was asked why would you use the same processor for all of these, the answer was clear – synergies from developing software for all of them. There is also a consistency that you don’t have if you mix and match (they are hoping to make it easier for developers to optimise). The goal is simple but clear: achieve new levels of power reduction without compromising performance.
Haswell links well with the Intel Ultrabook devices. Perlmutter referred to Haswell’s power reduction as a way for firms designing laptops to create thinner devices. Although there was not too much focus during the presentation on any technical details, I am sure over the next few days at IDF they will be revealed.