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Jul 12, 2012

Mobile Intel Haswell Unveiled

World’s biggest semiconductor and CPU manufacturer, American-Israeli company Intel, is currently hard at work on their future generation of x86 processors codenamed Haswell. The company has made no secret that Haswell would have a huge iGPU and offer the according performance, but they seem to be much more careful about what happens in the mobile space.

During this year’s Computex, AMD managed to spoil Intel’s UltraBook/Ivy Bridge party as the smaller, fabless CPU maker was able to offer much more capable Trinity CPUs with better power consumption than Intel Ivy Bridge was able to offer at the time. To have an APU that capable of delivering twice the 3D graphics performance and consume about 25% less than Intel’s competing Ivy Bridge processor was quite an achievement for AMD. They even have a 17-watt Trinity, while Intel had no “under 20W” Ivy Bridge. Intel quickly rectified the situation and now also offers 17W and 35W Ivy Bridge processors. The only problem is that these CPUs are considerably less capable then their 45W brothers. The CPU giant doesn’t want to repeat this and it is preparing a special flavor of Haswell that will only come in dual-core configurations.

As VR-Zone report, This version is called Lynx Point LP and it is practically a SoC (system on chip), as it integrates the SouthBridge of the platform next to the NorthBridge that’s already in the same die as the CPU. Intel’s PCH (Platform Controller Hub / SouthBridge) is apparently not on-die like the Northbridge and the IMC (integrated memory controiller), and this level of integration will likely increase the price of the platform instead of making it more affordable. Therefore, we can’t call Lynx Point LP generation a true SoC, as that’s more like a single package, but not a single chip. This is a very power-efficient solution that will be part of Intel’s Haswell Ultrabook ULV line, but much more capable and, surprisingly, power-hungry versions are also coming.

Intel’s Haswell UltraBook ULV parts that have a dual-die processor package including the CPU, NorthBridge, IMC and now, the PCH. This level of integration will allow Intel to provide dual-core Haswell processors with a maximum TDP of 15 watts.

ULV is short for ultra-low voltage, but head on and read the first part above about Intel Haswell mobile lineup presentation. This is an impressive achievement and besides offering a more reliable package and lower power consumption, it also leaves more room on the mainboard PCB for other chips, or just simplifies it altogether. There were many times when users were confronted with Southbridge chips that were simply popping off of the PCB and a reflow or complete rework was required to fix the notebook. This kind of problem will likely be avoided by this new type of platform. Starting from this and going for 35 or 45 watts versions, Intel will show us two directions, As VR-Zone reported.

One is just a bit cheaper and the other is more expensive, but it also comes with increased performance. We can read into this the fact that Intel will have lower costs making the fully-integrated version, but it will charge us more for the privilege of buying such a power-efficient solution. In any of these two directions the buyer might want to head on, he will be faced with the return of the PCH (SouthBridge). So, Intel takes off the PCH die and starts adding more x86 cores and more potent iGPUs. The modest 15W parts will still come with a variety of iGPUs; three to be more exact. Once we move past the 15W TDP mark, we’ll be faced with some strange TDP levels of 37W and 47W, respectively.

These represent a dual-core and a quad-core processor each and don’t come with the fastest GT3 version of the Haswell iGPU. The top mobile Haswell is likely also bringing the rumored level 4 cache of the memory on an interposer that we reported about hereThis version will sport a huge 57-watt maximum TDP, but Intel is likely to be targeting this at DTRs and gaming notebooks like MSI GT70 rather than UltraBooks.

Intel Haswell marketing shot
Image credits to Intel

Intel Haswell Platform Mobile PCB
Image credits to VR-Zone

Intel's Level 4 "Cache" Possible Concept
Image credits to VR-Zone


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