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You’ve probably heard about tech “generations,” likely from Apple.  Well, Apple is not the only company that comes out with new generations of products; in fact, the supplier of their processors, Intel, does as well.  And its exciting June 4 release is certainly a testament to that.

With the release of its new 4th Generation processors, Intel has increased its distance from the rest of the pack, making it clear that it is the top CPU manufacturer in the world.  “Haswell,” as the line of processors is called, has some advancements from its 3rd Generation predecessor, “Ivy Bridge.”  Among these are:

  • New microarchitecture: In the context of Intel’s “tick-tock” strategy, Haswell is a “tock” (a change in the architecture of the chip), as opposed to a “tick” (a reduction in the manufacturing process).  With a new layout of internal components, Haswell processors are expected to one-up Ivy Bridge in performance (although the public won’t know exactly how until the processors are released).

  • LGA 1150 socket:  A new microarchitecture means a new layout of connectors to the motherboard, and thus, a new socket. The CPU socket is the place on the motherboard where the processor chip sits to connect with the rest of the computer. Since the components are laid out differently, a new socket is required in order to properly communicate with the CPU.

  • New chipsets: With the release of new motherboards generally comes new chipsets.  H87 (standard), Z85 & Z87 (enthusiast), B85 (small business), and Q85 & Q87 (corporation) chipsets will find their homes on new LGA1150 motherboards. The chipset dictates how the different computer components interact, so new chipsets generally mean better, faster performance. The new Haswell chipsets will support up to 6 USB 3.0 ports and 3 SATA 6.0Gb/s ports, and the enthusiast series will have increased graphics card capabilities.

  • Increased integrated graphics performance: Intel continued its rapid increase in iGPU performance with its new technology for integrated graphics. The new GPGPU inside Haswell processors now supports DirectX 11.1, allowing for more vivid 3D graphics.  It also supports new technologies for better overall graphics, and the motherboard’s onboard video ports are now connected directly to the CPU for faster graphics data transfer.

  • Better power conservation: With Haswell comes the introduction of a new power-saving mechanism (the specifics of which are yet to be released to the public).  This technology is only part of the reduction in power draw; mobile processors for Ultrabooks have TDP’s (thermal design powers) as low as 15 watts.  In spite of leaving its manufacturing process the same, Intel still found a way to decrease the amount of wasted electricity.

  • DDR4 support for servers:  The new memory standard, to be released in conjunction with Haswell-EX, has several boosts from its predecessor.  DDR4, compatible with server and workstation Haswell processors, has higher data transfer rates, lower voltages, and a new topology setup that allows modules to function independently from other memory modules.

Despite a fair number of upgrades, Haswell processors cost no more than 30 dollars more than their Ivy Bridge counterparts.  Additionally, the release of Haswell processors should cause Ivy Bridge prices to drop substantially, making a good CPU available at a great price.


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