First Haswell benchmarks hit the web

Intel's next-generation Haswell processors are due in just a few months, and the first benchmark results have now leaked onto the web. Tom's Hardware was able to get its hands on a pre-production version of the Core i7-4770K, which will supplant the i7-3770K at the head of Intel's desktop lineup. The new model is similar to its Ivy-based predecessor, with four cores, Hyper-Threading support, and 8MB of L3 cache. Intel hasn't bumped up the chip's base or Turbo clock speeds, although the peak speed of the built-in GPU has been increased by 100MHz.

Haswell's integrated graphics processor is new, of course, but the i7-4770K doesn't have a full-fat implementation of it. None of the desktop-bound versions do, in fact. The desktop lineup listed at Tom's is limited to "GT2" graphics, which has half as many ALUs as the GT3 version that will be available on some of Haswell's mobile incarnations.

Tom's tested the Core i7-4770K against its counterparts in the Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge families, and the results are mostly what we expected. In application tests, the difference in performance between Haswell and Ivy is about the same as the delta between Ivy and Sandy. Most gains are in the 7-13% range, which isn't too shabby considering clock speeds have remained steady. The Haswell machine was also running with 17% less memory bandwidth than its peers; the system was using 1600MHz DDR memory like the others, but there's apparently some platform tuning that needs to be done.

In some instances, the Core i7-4770K is much faster than the 3770K. Haswell adds support for AVX2 and FMA3 instructions, and those deliver sizable gains in Sandra's Mandelbrot-based Multimedia benchmark, where integer performance is up by nearly a factor of two. The 4770K's L1 cache bandwidth has also increased by almost 2X versus the 3770K.

On the gaming front, the Core i7-4770K's HD Graphics 4600 looks like a nice improvement over the 4000-series graphics in the 3770K. Average frame rates are 12-52% higher depending on the game and resolution. Tom's doesn't include scores for any AMD APUs in the graphs, but it does indicate that the Trinity-based A10-5800K offers higher frame rates across the board. Trinity appears to have too much of a lead for Intel to be able to close the gap with more polished drivers, at least on the desktop. However, with double the horsepower, mobile GT3 variants of Haswell's IGP look poised to give integrated Radeons a run for their money.

Unfortunately, Tom's doesn't include CPU performance figures for any AMD processors. The site does pepper the results with a few scores for the Core i7-3970X, which is based on Sandy Bridge-E, and the six-core chip is generally faster than the 4770K. That said, the 3960X is mostly included in multithreaded tests that benefit from its additional cores.

All of the Core i7-4770K's performance figures are preliminary, of course. If the Haswell-based system's lower memory bandwidth is any indication, I'd expect platform-level tuning to improve performance in some instances. Final silicon could also impact the numbers.

Tom's doesn't test it, but I'm particularly curious to see how Haswell's power consumption and overclocking potential pan out. The 4770K's 84W TDP is 7W higher than the 3770K's. We've also been told by a trusted source that Haswell has more clock headroom than Ivy, which is already a pretty good overclocker.

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