How Intel's Haswell Disrupts the PC Ecosystem for the Better!

          I’m sure most of you have already heard a lot about Intel’s Haswell set of chipsets being publicly named the 4th Generation Core™ Processors with Intel® Iris™ and Intel® HD Graphics by now.   So I’ll take a slightly different tack than the types of reviews, blogs, or coverage I’m sure most of you have all already been exposed to.  I’ll talk about some actual first hand experiences that have transformed my gaming habits that typically don’t get into the spotlight.

          First, just in case you have not heard or read about Intel® 4th Generation Core™ Processors, Intel® Iris™, and Intel® HD Graphics, let’s quickly review some of the basics.

·         With Iris™ and Iris™ Pro Graphics we’re looking at getting up to about a 2x performance gain in graphics for Ultrabooks, Premium PCs, and All in Ones (aka AiO’s); which is fantastic for Gamers!  (As compared to the “3rd Generation Core Graphics”).  There is also greater support for DirectX® 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, & OpenGL® 4.0; which is awesome for Game Developers!

·         On the display front there is: 3 Screen collage display support, Enhanced support for 4K support, and 2x bandwidth for Display Port 1.2.  This is awesome for everyone!

·         Last but least there is faster Intel® QuickSync Video, JPEG & MPEG decode, and transcoding.  This also is great for anyone fiddling around with Video

          Now where things start getting really interesting and significant is that Intel, since 2006, has really been increasing its momentum in the graphics space in very significant ways.  While it’s a slightly older benchmark, 3DMark 06 is a good place for establishing a baseline to show our improvement over time.  Intel has been able to make a 75x increase in its graphics performance since then.  On top of this we’re now the fastest growing graphics chipset as recorded by independent sources such as Valve’s Hardware Steam Survey. So this leads to the next big set of questions to me as a both a consumer, and a gamer; which is the so what question?

          On the consumer side of things there’s actually a ton of Intel advancements that improve pretty much everything in computing across the board.  One of Intel’s core competencies obviously comes back to our chipsets.  Intel’s 4th Generation Core™ Processors coupled with something like Intel® Iris™ Pro is about as bleeding edge as it gets.  Yes, there are more perfomant graphics chipsets out there from the competition; but you have to ask yourself, what’s going to give you 1) the most bang for your buck? 2) In the smallest package possible? 3) Combining the least amount of tradeoffs per square millimeter?   The answer is obviously Intel.  What this nets you as a consumer is that you’re getting both the best balance of performance, to play or use any software application on the latest and greatest cutting edge thin and light PC products.

          The next set of consumer benefits goes far beyond the obvious chipset advantages.  What Intel is doing here is enabling the ecosystem to do new, creative, and innovative things with new form factors and designs for any PC.  On the business side this is disruptive in a very positive way.  The advantage to you and I boils down to this set of things. 

1)      Smaller footprint that’s more robust and performant for both CPU and GPU computing tasks.

2)      Lower power consumption which is more efficient.

3)      Leads to less heat.

4)      Leads to less noise.

5)      This allows for less space requirements for cooling.

          You start adding up all these benefits together and you end up with an incredible package and value as a Consumer.  That’s just the beginning though.  I could spool off and start talking about a ton of other nifty Intel advancements such as our Solid State Drives (SSDs), or WiDi; but I’ll save those for another time.   What I want to leave people with as the key consumer benefits boils down to this.  These Intel advancements can change your life for the better.  I’ll use myself by way of example.  I have both work and personal laptops.  Sometimes on my road trips I’d have to carry both laptops around. Even just my older work laptop, with the power brick came in at around 10 lbs or more.  Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but then you start adding in all the other things you carry around in your carry-on luggage or backpack and it feels more like 50 lbs.  I have literally thrown my shoulder out a few times slinging my backpacks around with just the one laptop in it.  Now with something like an Intel® 4th Generation Core™ Processor coupled with Intel’s Iris™ Graphics in something like an Ultrabook™ I can get extreme performance for pretty much any usage imaginable for less than 4lbs!  This includes the power supply.

          As a gamer, I’d like to build on the same benefits just mentioned that any consumer would get.  While the weight issue might sound trivial to some, for me it’s of paramount importance.  I like to get the most out of my gaming experience by being able to game anywhere.  In my house this could be my den, bedroom, the back yard, you name it.  While traveling this could be any Internet Café, friend’s house/LAN party, Hotel Room, etc.  I’ve seen people lugging their Consoles through airport security a couple of times and it’s not a pretty sight.  I pull out my Ultrabook™ which is at least 1/5th the thickness and at least ¼ the weight and I’m good to go.  I carry an HDMI cable and I can plug into pretty much any modern Hi Def TV or Monitor imaginable.   

                So what are some specific benefits of something like Intel’s Iris™ and Iris™ Pro Graphics you might ask?  Beyond the obvious benefit of knowing the baseline graphics capabilities of Intel being present provide up to even mid-range mobile GPU performance (Which is revolutionary!) I’d say the biggest benefit is the quality of the graphics experience.   For the first time in Intel’s history of doing graphics we are now taking a leadership position by being able to provide DirectX 11.1 samples to developers that are not currently available to the competition yet.  By doing this Intel is providing real world solutions to game developers that they’ve only previously dreamed about.  The two samples I’m referring to were unveiled at GDC 2013 in San Francisco.  One of these samples is called AOIT (Adaptive Order Independent Transparency) which can be applied to a wide range of transparent, or semi-transparent, geometry for things like better looking smoke, hair, foliage, windows, etc.  The other big sample is AVSM (Adaptive Volumetric Shadow Mapping) which is useful for dynamically self-shadowed volumetric data.  So procedurally generated smoke, fog, clouds etc now look way more realistic. 

                In Summary:   Intel’s latest 4th Generation Core™ processor and Iris™ Graphics are truly revolutionary products.  Never before has this much combined raw computing and graphics processing horsepower been available in such a small and capable package.  Intel is paving the way for new disruptive form factors to emerge with little to no tradeoffs.  These are very exciting times to be both a consumer and a gamer!  You can now pretty much have it all.  Mobility, thinner, lighter, quieter, longer battery life, wireless, cutting edge support for the latest graphics API’s, you name it.   It’s all there.  It’s all Intel.  Go check it out for yourself! 

This link will help you get started. http://intel.com/software/Haswell

Best regards,

Matt

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