The Core i7-4950HQ Mobile CRB

At a high level, Iris Pro 5200 would seem to solve both problems that plagued Intel graphics in the past: a lack of GPU hardware and a lack of memory bandwidth. As a mostly mobile-focused design, and one whose launch partner isn’t keen on giving out early samples, it seemed almost impossible to evaluate Iris Pro in time for the Haswell launch. That was until a week ago when this showed up:

What may look like a funny mid-tower from a few years ago is actually home to one of Intel’s mobile Customer Reference Boards (CRB). Although the chassis is desktop-sized, everything inside is optimized for mobile. It’s just easier to build things larger, especially when it comes to testing and diagnosing problems.

The silicon on-board is a 47W Core i7-4950HQ, the lowest end launch SKU with Iris Pro 5200 graphics. The chassis is obviously overkill for a 47W part, but the performance we get with this machine should be representative of any i7-4950HQ system with a cooler capable of dissipating 47W.

If you read our Haswell CPU review you’ll know that Intel tried to be stingy with telling us die sizes and transistor counts for the bulk of the Haswell lineup, electing to only give us data on dual-core Haswell GT3 and quad-core Haswell GT2. Knowing that mobile parts ship without integrated heat spreaders, I went to work on pulling off the i7-4950HQ’s heatsink (after I finished testing, just in case).

With the heatsink off and thermal paste wiped off, I used my bargain basement calipers to get a rough idea of die area. This is what I came up with:

Intel Haswell
  CPU Configuration GPU Configuration Die Size Transistor Count
Haswell GT3e (QC) Quad-Core GT3e 264mm2 + 84mm2 ?
Haswell GT2 (QC) Quad-Core GT2 177mm2 1.4B
Haswell ULT GT3 Dual-Core GT3 181mm2 1.3B

The Crystalwell die measures 7mm x 12mm (84mm^2), while the quad-core Haswell + GT3 die is a whopping 264mm^2 (16.2mm x 16.3mm). Working backwards from the official data Intel provided (177mm^2 for quad-core GT2), I came up with an 87mm^2 adder for the extra hardware in Haswell GT3 vs. GT2. Doubling that 87mm^2 we get a rough idea of how big the full 40 EU Haswell GPU might be: 174mm^2. If my math is right, this means that in a quad-core Haswell GT3 die, around 65% of the die area is GPU. This is contrary to the ~33% in a quad-core Haswell GT2. I suspect a dual-core + GT3 design is at least half GPU.

Crystalwell: Addressing the Memory Bandwidth Problem The Comparison Points
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  • jasonelmore - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    Looking at the prices, this will raise the price or Lower the margins of the 13" Retina Macbook Pro by about $150 each. Reply
  • mschira - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    Yea laptops benefit most - good for them.
    But what about the workstation?
    So intel stopped being a CPU company and turned into a mediocre GPU company? (can even beat last years GT650M)
    I would applaude the rise in GPU performance if they had not completely forgotten the CPU.
    M.
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    You're exactly right.

    13" ultrabook buyers who need it the most get little to nothing out of this.

    And desktop users don't need or want GT3e and it uses system RAM. Better off buying a graphics card instead of upgrading to Haswell on desktops.
    Reply
  • glugglug - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    While I agree this misses "where it would benefit most", I disagree on just *where* that is.

    I guess Intel agrees with Microsofts implicit decision that media center is dead. Real-time HQ quicksync would be perfect to transcode anything extenders couldn't handle, and would also make the scanning for and skipping of commercials incredibly efficient.
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Core i5…4350U…Iris 5000…15W…1.5 GHz
    Core i7…4550U…Iris 5000…15W…1.5 GHz
    Core i7…4650U…Iris 5000…15W…1.7 GHz

    These should work. The 4650U is available in the Sony Duo 13 as we speak, though at a hefty price tag of $1,969
    Reply
  • Eric S - Monday, July 01, 2013 - link

    The last 13" looks like they were prepping it for a fusion drive then changed their mind leaving extra space in the enclosure. I think it is due for an internal redesign that could allow for a higher wattage processor.

    I think the big deal is the OpenCL performance paired with ECC memory for the GPU. The Nvidia discrete processor uses non-ECC GDDR. This will be a big deal for users of Adobe products. Among other things, this solves the issue of using the Adobe mercury engine with non-ECC memory and the resulting single byte errors in the output. The errors are not a big deal for games, but may not be ideal for rendering professional output and scientific applications. This is basically a mobile AMD FireGL or Nvidia Quadro card. Now we just need OpenCL support for the currently CUDA-based mercury engines in After Effects and Premiere. I have a feeling that is coming or Adobe will also lose Mercury Engine compatibility with the new Mac Pro.
    Reply
  • tviceman - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Impressive iGPU performance, but I knew Intel was absolutely full of sh!t when claiming equal to or better than GT 650m performance. Not really even close, typically behind by 30-50% across the board. Reply
  • Krysto - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    When isn't Intel full of shit? Always take what the improvements they claim and cut it in half, and you'll be a lot closer to reality. Reply
  • xtc-604 - Saturday, June 08, 2013 - link

    Lol...you think that's bad? Look at Apple's claims. "over 200 new improvements in Mountain Lion" Reply
  • piroroadkill - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    sh<exclamation point>t? What are we? 9? Reply

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