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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  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    The performance isn't earth-shattering, but if Intel manages to put out good open-source Linux drivers for Iris Pro, I can't help but feel like this would be a great chip for that; it isn't like you'll be playing Crysis in Ubuntu anytime soon. I kind of want that CRB (or something like it), actually. Reply
  • tviceman - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    I'll bet notebooks with mid-range quad core CPU's and gt 750m discrete graphics will be cheaper than notebooks with Iris Pro enabled iGPU graphics as well. The only benefit would be a slightly slimmer chassis and battery life. Anyone who still wants to game on a notebook is noticeably better off with a mid-range discrete GPU over this. Reply
  • esterhasz - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    On page four, the ominous launch partner is not "keen" rather than "key", I guess. I'd be very keen on having that rMBP 13" with IP5200, though. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Noted and fixed. Thank you. Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    I'm very much in that boat too, a quad core 13" rMBP with Iris Pro would put it over the top. Reply
  • MattVincent - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    totally agree. I wonder if apple will actually put a quad core in the 13" though. I bet they would rather sell more 15" rmbp's Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Would a 47W chip be able to fit into a normal 13" Ultrabook-like chassis like the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display? Only an extra 12W TDP to deal with. Reply
  • esterhasz - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    This would be awesome and we have to remember that the 47W TDP includes voltage regulation moving off the MB, so the gap is maybe only 8W. The 47 TDP also refers to both CPU and GPU running at full speed, which is an extremely rare scenario - in gaming, the CPU load will probably hover at 50% only.

    In any case, if the tested model goes into a rMBP 13" I'm going to buy it before Tim Cook has left the stage.
    Reply
  • nofumble62 - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Thinking to buy a Ivybridge Mac Book Pro for my wife, I guess she will have wait a little longer for this baby. I wish they could fit in a Mac Book Air. Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    Look at the price of those chips though, you're going to be dropping at least $2000 on such a laptop when the CPU alone is $478. Reply

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