Intel Core i7-4770K Review: Haswell Has Landed

Intel HD and Iris Graphics and Media Encoding

With the release of the Haswell architecture, Intel's new integrated graphics cores will be branded with the “Iris” moniker. Now, we’ll see Intel HD 5000 graphics along with the higher-end Intel Iris Graphics 5100 and Iris Pro Graphics 5200; previously, these were codenamed GT3 (15W), GT3 (28W), and GT3e, respectively. Iris graphics are primarily designed for mobile devices, and we’ll be seeing them in Intel-based ultrabooks, higher-end notebooks, and desktop all-in-one devices. Upcoming Haswell desktops will still be branded as "Intel HD Graphics." High-end desktop parts will carry the "HD 4600" label, with lower-end parts branded as "HD 4400" and "HD 4200."

Iris brings new features including integrated on-package eDRAM memory for the GT3e graphics core, DX11.1, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL 1.2 support, double the bandwidth with DisplayPort 1.2, support for a 3-screen collage display, faster Intel Quick Sync Video performance and fast JPEG decode and MPEG encode.  Of note is the GT3e's eDRAM (embedded DRAM) cache complement that dramatically increases bandwidth and lowers latency with much faster access for the graphics and CPU cores.  Again, this is a feature for mobile Iris Graphics variants only, however.

Intel is claiming overall performance improvements of up to 2X for Iris Graphics, over previous 3rd Gen Ivy Bridge integrated graphics. The company also boasts that Iris will bring triple the 3D performance for desktop R-series chips. The R-series chips are the BGA-only (non-socketable) variants -- conventional desktop parts will be confined to GT2-class graphics.

Iris Graphics desktop
Source: Intel - Iris Graphics Desktop Performance

Iris Graphics Ultrabook
Source: Intel - Iris Graphics Ultrabook Performance

Intel will also offer Iris switchable, hybrid graphics implementations with NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, in systems with a discrete graphics card. Iris will also supports 4k UltraHD display output.

We'll be stepping through benchmark numbers of the desktop Intel HD 4600 series devices in the pages ahead but you'll have to wait for our Haswell mobile coverage to get a glimpse of Iris graphics in action, along with our direct confirmation of Intel's performance claims you see above.  In the meantime, in case you missed it, you can feast your eyes our quick side-by-side demo of Haswell GT3 Iris graphics in action versus NVIDIA discrete graphics, that we shot earlier this year at CES 2013.

Side-by-side Haswell graphics vs. NVIDIA demo

So, as you can see, Haswell definitely has the chops to at least hang with discrete graphics in Dirt 3 but we'll have more detailed numbers for you in the days ahead as we get Iris Graphics-powered machines in house for testing.

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