Intel’s Broadwell CPU; more details leak

Renames, rebrands, and GPUs

Intel - logoA few details about Intel’s Broadwell chip are now leaking, and the biggest bang is surrounding the GPU. It is all new on paper, but the code names indicate it is a little less than that.

You might recall that Broadwell is the successor to next year’s Haswell CPU, is going to mostly be an incremental change. First off, there will be no new chipsets for Broadwell, those for Haswell are going to be carried over. Word is now trickling out that those chipsets will be renamed to keep up the ruse that they are vaguely interesting, and are being referred to as the 9-series. The only changes are going to be clock speed and a few fuses though, don’t get your hopes up. Some sources are saying that Intel will keep a few features fused off in the Haswell/8-series variants to add a bullet point or two when they add 1 to the series number, but the silicon will be the same between them.

More importantly is the fact that you won’t be able to get a socketed Broadwell, they are BGA only, so goodbye to desktops. There will be a few new SKUs of Haswell released to freshen the product mix, but they will be 22nm and once again have no silicon changes.

Broadwell cores are also not slated for a major revision, they are mainly being shrunk to 14nm. A few bits of low hanging fruit are being picked with the shrink, but no big bangs. Think performance per watt gains, outright performance will again underwhelm on the CPU side.

Will Broadwell bring anything to the table worth noting? Actually yes, SemiAccurate moles have said that the CPU will have a brand new GPU with a lot of new instructions, and a few radically improved ones too. It will not be the big graphics bang that Haswell is, but it should increase GPU performance by a claimed 40% from what it’s 22nm sibling has. If Broadwell is only at the same TDPs, it will be a clear win, but it will likely drop power by a substantial margin. Unfortunately for the user, Intel graphics drivers are still woeful and broken, and there is no internal impetus to change that.

The take home message is that Haswell will be a little bit better on CPU performance, do a bit better on absolute energy use, and be notably better on performance per watt. The chipsets are not going to bring anything to the table, and the state of Intel drivers is going to keep discrete GPUs relevant for another generation. There are some secrets still lurking in the SoC, but more on that later.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate