Intel dubs Haswell IGP 'Iris,' promises 2-3X performance increase

So long, Intel HD Graphics! Well, kind of. At a press event earlier today, Intel revealed that the faster variants of Haswell's integrated GPU will bear new names: Iris graphics and Iris Pro graphics. Slower versions of the IGP will carry the old Intel HD Graphics brand name.

Confused? Here's a handy decoder ring from the Intel presentation. The "GT3" code name refers to the full-fat implementation of Haswell's IGP, while "GT2" and "GT1" denote variants likely to have fewer functional units and lower performance.

The "e" in GT3e indicates the presence of embedded DRAM (eDRAM) on the chip package. Out in the market, it looks like the Iris Pro moniker will denote that feature.

Now, branding wasn't the only thing Intel discussed today. We also got an official glimpse at some of the performance improvements in store.

Desktop users can expect up to a three-fold increase in graphics performance, at least in 3DMark11. (The performance charts in Intel's presentation were sadly bereft of real-world gaming benchmarks.) Note that the Haswell chip with the quickest IGP, the Core i7-4770R, has a thermal envelope of only 65W, less than the substantially slower Core i7-3770K. R-series processors have Iris Pro graphics and are expected to be available in all-in-one systems.

Intel promises a smaller but still-impressive 2X performance boost on mobile platforms. The Core i7-4950HQ looks like one of Intel's highest-performing mobile chips; given the 47W TDP and the "Q" in the model number, I'd expect it has at least four cores and twice that many threads. On the ultrabook front, only the Core i7-4558U seems to deliver the promised 2X boost, but it's a 28W chip. The Core i7-4650U, whose 15W TDP is more in line with today's 17W ultrabook CPUs, only performs about 1.5 times quicker than its predecessor in 3DMark11. That's still a welcome improvement, of course.

In addition to higher performance, Intel says Haswell's integrated graphics will bring other improvements and additions. The chipmaker mentioned faster Quick Sync video encoding, MJPEG acceleration, support for 4K resolutions and triple screens, and compatibility with DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL 1.2.

Haswell, known officially as 4th Generation Core, is scheduled for release on June 3. We expect to have benchmarks of the chip and its Iris integrated graphics by then, so stay tuned.

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