They are finally here! Intel's 4th generation line of Core processors codenamed Haswell first started appearing on sale just this week to the consumer line and it does not disappoint.
The new CPU is 25% more efficient than the Ivy Bridge CPUs and it's integrated GPU is 2.6x more powerful. The IGP ends up being 50% faster when used to graphics intense tasks such as video editing or light gaming that the processors are suited to.
But where Ivy Bridge touched on Haswell intends to improve. The main forte of Ivy Bridge was still desktops, laptops and Ultrabooks. Haswell on the other hand has a much higher energy saving and therefore is well suited to tablets.
The IGP is where it is at however. The Ivy Bridge CPU itself is already a powerhouse and with only a few minor improvements for this side of things, the graphics chip has had full attention. To me personally, I believe that including a GPU in the CPU to create SoC (System-On-a-Chip) is a great idea and one that is great for those who use the GPU for certain tasks (I love the Quick Sync 2.0 feature in my Sandy Bridge CPU as it makes video rendering much faster) but I also have a dedicated GPU (AMD Radeon 7950) for gaming and for other GPU intensive applications.
The improvements within the GPU are incredibly useful for tablets and other devices which can utilise the lower power consumption and better performance better than a PC with a dedicated graphics card. What's more, the CPUs all feature different GPUs which allows for a broad scalability ranging from servers to tablets. It is claimed that the highest end GPU (Iris Pro 5200) included has a total of 40 execution cores (or units) in comparison to Sandy Bridge's stock of 16 cores. Intel has promised scalability of the GPU as the lowest end (HD 4200) model only has 20 units - still more than Sandy Bridge.
Haswell will also use a different socket to both Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge now using Socket 1150 which means no backward compatibility.
For the mean time, if you are like me and are waiting for Broadwell, the successor to Haswell (14nm fabrication process) or even waiting further then here is the new box design for you to look at.