Intel Core i7-4770K Review: Haswell Has Landed

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Introduction and Specifications

We've been talking about Intel's 4th Generation Core processor technology, codenamed Haswell, for over two years now.  If you've been hanging around these parts and are like most self-respecting geeks, you've likely been feeling the build-up of Haswell for quite some time.  Intel has disclosed lots of information on their latest processor technologies, from its 22nm 3D Tri-Gate transistors, to its beefed-up integrated graphics core.  Sure, there's marketing hype and press releases but at some point you've got to have execution -- and today is all about execution for Intel.

Intel is officially launching Haswell today, their 4th Generation Core processor technology for the desktop market, with our follow-on coverage of dual core and mobile Haswell offerings coming up quickly on June 3rd.  Haswell marks a number of firsts for Intel, including leading-edge technologies like on-chip voltage regulators, eDRAM, and their first graphics engine that fully supports the DX11.1 specification and OpenGL 4.0.  With these new features alone, Haswell is primed to offer significant performance and feature enhancements, the likes of which should appeal first and foremost to mainstream consumers; but there's also plenty brought to the table for the performance enthusiast here as well.  First, let's dig into the specifications of Intel's Haswell desktop variant and then we'll dive deeper into its underlying technologies going beyond just high level speeds and feeds.

Intel Core i7-4770K Processor

Intel 4th Generation Core Processor Core i7-4770K
Specifications & Features

8-Way Multi-Task Processing: Runs 8 independent processing threads in one physical package.

Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.9 GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.

Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: Allows each core of the processor to work on two tasks at the same time providing unprecedented processing capability for better multi-tasking, and for threaded applications.

Intel Smart Cache: 8MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.

CPU Overclocking Enabled (with Intel Z87 Chipset): Fully unlocked core multiplier, power, base clock and DDR3 memory ratios enable ultimate flexibility for overclocking.

Graphics Overclocking Enabled (with Intel 8 Series Chipset): Unlocked graphics multiplier allows for overclocking to boost the graphics clock speed. 

A wafer of 22nm Haswell Dies

Integrated Memory Controller
: Supports 2 channels of DDR3-1600 memory with 2 DIMMs per channel. Support for memory based on the Intel Extreme Memory Profile (Intel XMP) specification.

Chipset/Motherboard Compatibility: Compatible with all Intel 8 Series Chipsets

AES-NI: Provides processor instructions that help to improve performance for AES encryption and decryption algorithms.

Built-in Visuals: New enhanced built-in visual features deliver a seamless visual PC experience for doing everything from simple e-mail to enjoying the latest 3D and HD entertainment. The built-in visuals suite includes:

Intel Quick Sync Video Technology: Media processing for incredibly fast conversion of video files for portable media players or online sharing.

Intel InTru 3D: Stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray playback experience in full HD 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.4 with 3D.

Intel Clear Video HD Technology: Visual quality and color fidelity enhancements for spectacular HD playback and immersive web browsing.

Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 2.0 (Intel AVX 2.0): Increased performance for demanding visual applications like professional video & image editing.

Intel HD Graphics 4600: Significant 3D performance for immersive mainstream gaming on a broad range of titles. The dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1250MHz.

Intel Haswell Quad-Core Processor Die Shot

As we noted earlier, Haswell is the codename of a brand new microarchitecture that will be foundation of an entire line of desktop, server, and mobile processors in 2013 and beyond. It is a “Tock” in Intel’s "Tick-Tock" CPU release cadence, which is to say it is a major micro architectural update and not a mild revision or shrink of an existing design.

Above we have a die shot of a Haswell Core processor, along with the features and specifications of the new Core i7-4770K processor we’ll be showcasing here. Some of the features will sound similar to previous Intel processor offerings, but make no mistake, these are completely new chips. They may leverage many technologies from previous Intel CPU microarchitectures, but with Haswell, Intel has redesigned virtually all of the execution engines, integrated a much more powerful graphics core, and built in support for new extensions that could drastically improve performance.

We’ll explain more and dive a little deeper into Haswell on the pages ahead. But before we do, we’d like to reference a few previous HotHardware articles with information pertinent to today’s launch:

We've covered a number of the features inherent to Haswell and its companion 8-series chipset, so we won't be going in-depth again here. Intel's 8-Series chipsets will offer Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) and Rapid Storage Technology (RST) which we covered in our Z68 launch piece. Our coverage of Intel's 22nm Tri-Gate transistor announcement gives some detail on the manufacturing process technology used with Ivy Bridge and the various Haswell labeled stories cover many of the details Intel has released in the months leading up to today's launch.

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