It’s that time of year again, spring is here and Intel is about the release a new line of processors. In 2011 we had Sandy Bridge, last year it was Ivy Bridge and this year is Haswell. Of course every year they get better, more powerful, consume less power and offer overall increased performance. Last year the big gain between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge was the graphics performance, the GPU increased significantly while using the same amound of power, even less actually.
If you look at Intel and graphics, they’ve tried their hand at high end gaming, and Ivy Bridge’s HD 4000 graphics chip brought to the table decent performance. This year we’ve got Haswell and Intel has upped its game with IRIS Graphics.
So where did we come from? Ivy Bridge CPUs came with 1 of 3 GPUs: HD Graphics 4000, the highest-performing and most common; HD Graphics 2500, less powerful, it used only 6 of Intel’s graphics execution units (EUs) rather than 16; and HD graphics, which is basically the same as HD 2500 with out Intel’s QuickSync video encoding.In
Haswell’s new GPUs have expanded the number of performance tiers to five and cover different types of devices, power envelopes, and price points. We learned about the top 3 performing parts which you can check out in the graph below:
When it comes to Ultrabooks only 2 of these 3 GPUs are designed to fit inside out portable friends. The higher-performing of these two GPUs sheds the HD Graphics moniker for a new name: the Iris Graphics 5100. Intel’s 3DMark11 tests show this part as being just over twice as fast as Ivy Bridge’s HD 4000 chip, which is a very impressive gain.
One thing you might want to keep in mind is that the Iris 5100 is confined to chips with a 28W thermal design power (TDP), which is a fair bit higher than the 17W TDP used by both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs. Meaning your battery life isn’t going to be as hot as you might want it to be.
For smaller and perhaps cheaper Ultrabooks, keep an eye out for the Intel HD Graphics 5000. Intel’s benchmarks show it being about 1.5 times as quick as the HD 4000, which is still a nice increase given that chips with this GPU fit into a 15W TDP envelope.
If you’re trying to keep all of the straight at a glance Iris is being reserved for the fastest highend graphics that Intel has to offer.
There are a few more GPUs that we’re going to see from Intel, but these are the 3 that we’ll probably end up seeing the most often. There is going to be another faster GPU released but it will be headed for larger laptops like a chunky 15 inch Macbook Pro and what we’re looking at today is headed for an Ultrabook, to keep in the Apple vein of explainations, the Macbook Air.
If we take a quick look at the highedn the Iris Pro Graphics 5200 GPU is similar to the Iris 5100 in execution resources, but it adds a small amount of integrated eDRAM to the CPU package to increase performance. Like everything in high performance graphics it isn’t exactly power efficient and the H-series quad-core processors that use the Iris Pro 5200 have a 47W TDP compared to the dual-core Iris 5100-equipped U-series CPUs’ 28W.
We were actually at IDF in Beijing and got to check out a Haswell gaming demo: