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Intel's Haswell Chip Optimized for Videoconferencing
Intel has finally released the next big thing in CPUs but what does Haswell bring to the table? Depending on how you look at things either a lot or not much, but it certainly has enough interesting details to keep any geek happy.
The basics of Haswell don't look all that different to the last two CPUs Intel put out, Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge. Both have four cores max on the desktop, HT, a central ring bus and, a GPU on die. From a high level view there isn't much there but the devil is in the details and there are a lot of details. The cores are entirely new but not radically different from their predecessors other than adding AVX2 support.
The first really new bit is that Haswell comes in three flavors, GT1, GT2 and GT3 whereas the last two only came in two variants, GT1 and GT2. With 10 and 20 shaders, the lower two Haswells represent incremental gains over the 6 and 16 in Ivy especially since they use a variant of Ivy's architecture.
The die looks like this without the markings
GT3 is where things start getting interesting and it comes in two sub-flavors. To be a bit more precise GT3 only has one silicon variant, the second version called GT3e has a 128MB eDRAM cache on the package acting as an L4 cache for the entire chip. All GT3s have 40 shaders, enough raw performance to get Intel out of the graphics doghouse. Performance won't stun a gamer but it should be more than enough to drive a high rez screen at reasonable refresh rates, a feat that Intel could not claim before today.
While the GPU is an evolution of the older Ivy shaders, there are serious enhancements to functionality. Intel added support for DX11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and OpenGL 4.0 to the feature list along with 4K video support and three screen capabilities via DP1.2. On the video encode/decode side Intel has added MJPEG to the codec lists and now supports more streams. The idea here is to support better video conferencing where simultaneous encode and decode are mandatory and additional streams can be put to good use too.
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