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Haswell guide: Fourth generation Intel Core processor preview

What you need to know about Intel's new processor architecture

Haswell is a new processor architecture based on an existing manufacturing process. That means it will have the 22nm Tri-Gate ‘3D’ transistors introduced with Ivy Bridge. The main enhancements of the CPU architecture come in the shape of new instructions (AVX 2) and support for transactional memory.

The latter should make multi-threaded software run faster. The integrated GPU in the consumer models should also be a lot faster, and it will support DirectX 11.1. Intel is taking the integration of the chipset in the processor a step further, even releasing a complete system-on-a-chip (SoC) version of the processor.

Intel revealed more details this week about next year's fourth generation Intel Core processors during the Intel Developer Forum 2012. Codenamed Haswell, the new chips should become available in the first half of 2012. Here is a preview with the latest facts.

Haswell is a new architecture based on an existing manufacturing process. That means it will have the 22nm Tri-Gate ‘3D’ transistors introduced with Ivy Bridge. The main enhancements of the CPU architecture come in the shape of new instructions (AVX 2) and support for transactional memory. The latter should make multi-threaded software run faster. The integrated GPU in the consumer models should also be a lot faster, and it will support DirectX 11.1. Intel is taking the integration of the chipset in the processor a step further, even releasing a complete system-on-a-chip (SoC) version of the processor.

The general design of Haswell is similar to that of Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge. It has a very modular design with four cores, integrated graphics, an integrated dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, an integrated PCI-Express 3.0 controller and a ringbus that links each component. Both HyperThreading and Turbo mode are present. The modular design makes it easy for Intel to vary the number of cores or the type of integrated graphics card.

Some significant changes have been applied as well, such as the integration of a voltage controller, so Haswell will not be compatible with current motherboards. It's been rumoured that the Socket 1150 processor socket will appear for desktops, and laptops will get a new socket with 947 contact points. These sockets have yet to be confirmed.

Intel has added instructions that should speed up encryption algorithms. Now that more and more data on the internet is encrypted - VPN connections, coded video-conferencing streams, HTTPS sites, and so on - these new instructions could really improve performance.

As was the case with Sandy and Ivy Bridge, Haswell will initially be available for desktops and laptops. A version for high-end desktops and servers - Haswell-E(P) - won't appear until 2014. The consumer versions should come out between March and June 2013.

For more in-depth information on Intel’s fourth generation Core processor, read the full preview on Hardware.Info.

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