Haswell: The Effect on Game Developers and Perceptual Computing

The highly anticipated 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor family code-named Haswell has finally made its debut. Some of the most positive attention this processor microarchitecture group is getting are from game developers, coders on the cutting-edge of development technology who are reporting on how this generation is affecting them “in the trenches”, so to speak.  With this newest microarchitecture development, software developers are able to select a performance and choice of power that meets their unique requirements across the device spectrum of tablets, convertibles, Ultrabooks™, and desktops.

An overview of Haswell


If you really want to get an insider look at what Haswell has to offer, you’ll want to watch this video from Intel strategist Jim Fister. He’s truly excited about this processor family, and his enthusiasm is wonderful to see. Jim speaks about the Haswell focus: performance, modularity, and power innovations. Intel wanted to make Haswell work on both new and legacy code, and thankfully, legacy code is going to be able to perform better than ever before with Haswell. Security was on the top priority list as well, and Jim reports that users will be able to do much more with cryptography, hashing, and indexing as it lends itself to a much more secure platform. Performance has been increased along with better power innovation; this opens opportunities to many more form factors, as we’ve seen in the ever-thinning Ultrabooks.

Even Zombies like it


Straight from Zombie Studios comes Chance Lyon, lead engineer, and Russell Nelson, Tech Director. They were given a Haswell Iris Pro box, and report that utilizing Haswell along with Iris Pro has allowed the studio to focus on the user game experience. Haswell can help them reach a much broader audience, since they can port their games to both tablets and Ultrabooks. Sensors built into the next-generation Ultrabooks have allowed game developers to create new and interesting ways for players to interact with the game itself, along with the saturation of touch screens that has completely changed the way that developers approach design and UI.

The developers also report that Haswell along with the Perceptual Computing SDK opens up a lot of possibilities for PC games in the future. The amount of depth data from the Creative* Gesture Camera along with the SDK is intriguing; the use of eye tracking, gestures, hand movements, and eye tracking is also rife with possibility. One could even see engaging with the emotional state of the player somehow down the road. The combination of all this technology is going to create completely new experiences for players and developers.

Gabe Newell of Valve talks about Haswell


Gabe Newell is known primarily for his video game development work at Valve, along with Steam, an online game distribution platform.  One of the most popular games at Steam is Dota 2, which used to require a very robust set of system resources back in the day. Now, with Haswell architecture, players can experience the full power of this game on an Ultrabook, and Newell is “amazed” at how far Intel has come in power and hardware management. He notes that Intel designs on Haswell mean that his games can go more places – like tablets, Ultrabooks, and other form factors, and states that they’ve seen a 70% increase in PC volume that they believe is directly related to Haswell.

Great feedback!

As we can infer from the above videos, the experience you can expect from an Ultrabook with the new 4th generation core processor is excellent. These are extremely responsive machines that offer amazing performance, a natural UI with touch and voice, and AOAC (always on always connected) as a given. You also get to take advantage of Intel Identity Protection, anti-virus, facial log-in, vPro, and Small Business Advantage so your data is always safe. The machine itself is meant to be mobile, with all-day battery life, thinner lighter designs, and Intel Wireless Display. And let’s not forget that it just looks cool; great visuals, 2 in 1 convertibles and detachable form factors, not to mention a high res display.

Ultrabook as a PC category is continuing to drive market innovation; we’re seeing thinner form factors, intriguing designs (convertibles, detachable, etc.), and more natural human/computer interaction, such as voice control integration. Ultrabooks are able to deliver what is essentially a mobile computing experience; we’re looking at consumption usages similar to that of a smartphone or a tablet, with the productivity potential and sheer computing power of that of a full-blown PC. This is going to continue to drive market innovation as we see thinner and lighter designs come out, especially in the Ultrabook form factor category.

Perceptual computing is something that Intel stands firmly behind, and to that end,  Intel has released the Perceptual Computing SDK, a free framework developers can use for their applications. Perceptual computing is set to fundamentally change how people interact with their PCs in intuitive, natural and engaging ways. Developers can create exciting new applications that take advantage of the SDK’s core capabilities: close-range hand and finger tracking, speech recognition, face analysis, and augmented reality, and as we’ve seen in the above Zombie video, the sky is the limit as to where developers will take this experience.

The Haswell processor microarchitecture family was developed with user experience at the forefront, responding to calls for performance, responsiveness, greater security, and longer battery life. Developers who design software that is created to take advantage of next generation touch and sensors – along with perceptual computing capabilities - will be dialing into a system that is already tailor-made for an optimum user experience.


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