Intel has been getting serious about beefing up the graphics capabilities of its processors over the past few years. The company’s 3rd-generation Core family of processors included Intel HD 4000 graphics that were good enough to play many recent video games without a separate, dedicated graphics card. And things are looking even brighter for the upcoming 4th-gen Core processors, due to start shipping in the second half of 2013.
The most powerful 4th-gen chips, code-named Haswell, will offer as much as 3 times the graphics performance of a 3rd-gen “Ivy Bridge” chip. But you’ll only see those sorts of performance gains in high-power desktop chips.
Notebooks and ultrabooks will also get a boost, but it won’t be quite as significant.
According to benchmark results released by Intel, the company’s 4th-gen Core i7 chips score twice as high on the 3DMark11 graphics benchmark as a Core i7 Ivy Bridge chip.
But that’s only true if you pit a 28W Haswell chip against a 17W Ivy Bridge chip. Intel will also offer a lower-power 15 watt Core i7 chip for thinner and lighter computers (and models that may get better battery life). It still outperforms the best of Ivy Bridge 17W chips, but performance has only increased by 50-percent, rather than 100-percent.
Still, any way you look at it, Intel’s next-gen integrated chips are going to offer the kind of graphics performance that you could only get from discrete graphics cards in years past.
Of course, AMD, NVIDIA, and other graphics card makers aren’t sitting on their hands. While it’s too early to say exactly how Intel’s upcoming integrated graphics chips will compare with the latest technology from those companies, we’re getting to the point where you may only need to buy a separate graphics card for your computer if you want to play bleeding edge games.
All told, Intel has a few different names for its upcoming graphics technology. The top-of-the-line versions for chips using 28W to 84W are called Intel Iris 5100 and Intel Iris Pro 5200, respectively, while lower-power notebook and ultrabook chips will feature Intel HD, Intel HD Graphics 4600, and Intel HD Graphics 5000.
didn’t AMD already do this a year ago, and much better?
I’m not so sure that you’ll only need dedicated graphics for bleeding edge. Integrated graphics has consistently been two years behind dedicated graphics. The way games are being released today, bleeding edge only lasts about six months.
I think the major selling point for Intel is that they’re taking graphics performance seriously with larger increases in performance with each iteration. They may not be able to go up against Nvidia or AMD right now but their growth rate has increased.
Does anyone know how much performance improved with AMD and Nvidia graphics from year to year as a comparison? Maybe with some performance vs power consumption numbers too.
These kinds of developments lead me to 2 conclusions:
– the adage that one is better off holding off purchases until something much better comes along, often refuted in the past, is beginning to take on currency. This is because of the more rapid rate of change, and what changes are introduced, which seems to follow the tick-tock of Intel CPU introductions.
For example, Core 2 Duo was a significant improvement over Core Duo. But the first gen Core is weren’t that much better than Core 2 Duo. Sandy Bridge (gen 2 Core i) was worth waiting for. Ivy Bridge has been in the marketplace for too short a time, and didn’t really offer anything compelling vs. Sandy Bridge. Now Haswell will likely deliver improvements worth pouncing on.
– tablets, smartphones, and other non-PC devices are having a really disruptive effect. Consumers are the big winners here.
For example, dedicated GPS makers are suffering as more and more of their functionality is incorporated at dirt cheap prices. ForeverMaps2, an online (with Internet access) and offline (without Internet access) mapping app recently made its debut on iTunes’ UK or Google Play store, for ~$1. This app uses a free open source global street level map database. Navdroyd, a $6 Android online/offline map app using the same map database, offers turn by turn directions.
The Myscript Notes Mobile app offers “good enough” handwriting recognition for Samsung Galaxy Note devices. Asus’ Supernote app (which can be found on the Internet and installed on non-Asus devices), incorporates multi-mode note taking (handwritten text that can be shrunk or moved around the page, images) for $0 cost.
Faced with the rapid advances of ARM devices from below, Intel has no choice but to force PC prices to drop to at or just above ARM tablet prices. It won’t be long before Microsoft is forced to do likewise with Windows 8.x for x86, even bundling Windows and Office for really low prices, just to avoid taking an inventory bloodbath.
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