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Rumors Point to 3x Performance Gain for 3D Graphics in Haswell, But 3x What?

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One of the thing things that we find interesting in many leaks and even official documents about upcoming products is the use of percentages and multipliers without much real data. We saw this with Microsoft and their performance claims for Windows 8’s new desktop and 3D graphics performance. They used a ton of percentages and yet forgot to list the hardware they were comparing or any of the raw numbers. Not too long after that we saw ARM claim a base 50% performance increase with their next generation Mali GPUs over their current generation Mali GPUs. Again we do not have any real numbers or the basis for these claims. Unfortunately for ARM even a 50% performance increase will not make their next gen faster than some of their competition.

Now we are hearing that on some roadmaps Intel’s Haswell CPU is showing 3x the 3D Graphics performance of the Ivy Bridge. Again it sounds like a great thing, but we are simply missing too much data to start celebrating just yet. A 3x performance gain (or 300%) is nothing to thumb your nose at, but again what is the original number is 6FPS that means that your new frame rate is only 18FPS. This is still far under the playable range that a gamer would need at full HD resolution (meaning 1920x1080) and a typical amount of eye candy on.

In fact taking a look at most of the games we have tested in our motherboard and CPU tests for the Z77 line up. 18-24FPS minimum is about the range the new Haswell GPUs would be with many current games at 1920x1080. Now do not get me wrong here; any performance improvement is good and a 300% gain is amazing, but it still is not going to allow Intel’s GMA to break into the enthusiast level games unless it is at much lower resolutions… which could be a distinct possibility for Intel’s next generation processor.  We imagine that Intel’s goal here is not 1920x1080 but closer to 1366x780. This will give it enough room to pull off acceptable frame rates in many current games even with some eye candy on and that resolution seems to be the golden one right now for tablets and Ultrabooks. This should help Intel to push some of these to the market. Well, this and a disclaimer that it the new iGPU is not meant for high-end gaming.

Haswell is still a future product so we are not going to get real numbers from Intel just yet and the talked about Roadmaps are nothing but a rumor until we actually see the slides. We are still hopeful that we will see an improvement to Intel’s iGPU for their next generation CPUs as it will help the overall performance of the processor and might even help to reduce some of the heat and power that is needed to get higher clock speeds.

For now anything you read about Haswell should be taken with a grain of salt (and remembering that percentages and multipliers really mean nothing).  Intel also has to deal with AMD’s APUs which have been showing much better gaming performance that Intel’s GMA. It is true that the CPU portion of AMD’s APUs cannot keep up with Intel, but in the game of FPS AMD still has a distinct edge. Unfortunately for AMD notebook/ultrabook manufactures can always add in a better GPU and keep the CPU performance that Intel brings if they need better graphical performance. We do expect performance increases in both the CPU and iGPU from Haswell. This will be good for consumers as long as Intel can get them into compelling products, which might be the hardest part to accomplish.

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Last modified on Thursday, 09 August 2012 19:57

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