Haswell is here. Intel has unveiled the chips based on its latest fourth generation core microarchitecture, code-named Haswell. The first batch Intel unveiled also includes quad-core processors for laptops and desktops named Z87 and Q87, respectively. Intel claims that the new chips feature 50 percent better active battery life and 20 times better idle battery life. The company has also said that graphics for the Haswell-based chips will be twice as good as the graphics for last year’s Ivy Bridge chips. Intel is continuing with the same three tiered naming and branding as before and is branding Haswell processors using the Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 naming conventions.  

While Intel has taken the wraps off  five Core i7 laptop processors and 12 quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 desktop chips today, further details will be divulged in Intel’s keynote at Computex on Tuesday. Of the processors unveiled on Saturday, the Core i7-4770K heads the desktop line and the Core i7-4930MX tops off the laptop range.

Haswell microarchitecture

Haswell microarchitecture

In contrast to the buzz regarding the launch, Intel has made relatively modest microarchitecture improvements with Haswell, especially when compared to Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge release, which is the name given to 22nm shrunk die of the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture based on 3D transistors. The release is in line with Intel’s ‘tick-tock’ product development and release strategy adopted since 2007. Every 'tick' is a shrinking of process technology of the previous microarchitecture and every 'tock' is a new microarchitecture. Intel’s Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, introduced in early 2011, was a ‘tock’ built using a 32nm manufacturing process, the Haswell release too is a ‘tock’ and it uses the 22nm manufacturing process as Ivy Bridge.

PC makers would be hoping that the latest launch will boost the PC market, which according to the latest IDC analysis will decline by 7.8 percent in 2013. Intel has said that the fourth generation mobile and desktop processors will be energy efficient, allowing computer makers to expand and refine designs for new product categories like portable All-in-One desktops and hybrid ultrabooks where the screen can be detached from the keyboard and work like a tablet. The company also said that the energy-efficient Haswell processors will allow for thinner, lighter laptops without the performance hit associated with moving to a lower-powered Atom platform.

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