I don’t think I had a good grasp on why Intel’s Haswell launch felt so weird until now. Haswell less than a month after the arrival of a new CEO, and it shows up a couple of weeks after the abrupt change in leadership within the Intel Architecture Group. Dramatic change at the top is always felt several levels below.

To make matters worse, there are now four very important Haswell families that need to be validated, tested, launched and promoted. There’s desktop Haswell, mobile Haswell, ultramobile Haswell ULT (U-series) and Haswell ULX (tablet, Y-series). The number one explanation I’m getting for why we don’t have a socketed K-series SKU with Crystalwell is that everyone is already too busy validating all of the other variants of Haswell that have to launch as soon as possible.

Unlike previous architectures where Intel spanned the gamut of TDPs, Haswell is expected to have success in pretty much all of the segments and as a result, getting everything out on time is very important.

As anyone who has tried to do too much with too little time/resources knows, these types of stories typically don’t end well. The result is one of the more disorganized launches in Intel history and it seems to be caused by dramatic changes at the top of the company combined with a very aggressive to-do list down below.

Haswell is viewed, at least by some within Intel, as a way to slow the bleeding of the PC industry. The shift of consumer dollars to smartphones and tablets instead of notebooks and desktops won’t be reversed, but a good launch here might at least help keep things moving ok until Silvermont, BayTrail and Merrifield can show up and fill the gaps in Intel’s product stack.

Haswell Ultrabook Requirements
  2013 Requirement
Wake < 3 seconds from S4 sleep
Standby >= 7 days standby with fresh data (Connected Standby or Intel Smart Connect)
Idle Battery Life >= 9 hours Windows idle
Video Playback >= 6 hours HD Video Playback (1080p local video)
Software Anti-virus, Anti-malware (Win 8 Defender is ok), Intel anti-theft protection & identity theft protection
Networking 2x2 802.11n minimum + Intel WiDi
Voice Voice Command/Control Hardware Ready (dual-array microphone baseline)
Display Touch screen
Thickness < 23mm for 14" and above
< 20mm 13.3" and below
(convertibles include the thickness of both pieces)
Storage 16GB of Solid State Storage minimum, 16K PCMark Vantage Score, 80MB/s sequential transfer

So Haswell is important, Intel management is in a state of flux, and there’s a lot of Haswell to bring to market. The result? We get a staggered launch, with only some parts ready to go immediately. Interestingly enough, it’s the high-end Haswell desktop parts that are most ready at this point. The stakes are high enough that we had to resort to testing a customer reference platform in order to evaluate Intel’s new Iris Pro graphics. And today, we had to track down a pre-production Haswell Ultrabook in Taiwan to even be able to bring you this review of Haswell ULT.

I’ve spent the past few days in Taipei hunting for bandwidth, running tests in my hotel room and trying my best to understand all there is to know about Haswell ULT, the third Haswell I outlined in our microarchitecture piece last year.

On-Package PCH, The First Single Chip Haswell
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  • Freddo - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    I wonder if this CPU is powerful enough to run the PS2 emulator PCSX2 well, it require a somewhat decent CPU.
  • bakedpatato - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    So the M series socketed Mobile Haswells are not getting S0ix?
  • stevechippy - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    Correct, but there are U-series 28W TDP parts that aren't in the Ultrabook bracket AFAIK.
  • Kevin G - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    Typo on page 7 on the Tomb Raider 1600 x 900 test graph: "Motion Blue".

  • Ryan Smith - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

  • name99 - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    "The shift of consumer dollars to smartphones and tablets instead of notebooks and desktops won’t be reversed, but a good launch here might at least help keep things moving ok until Silvermont, BayTrail and Merrifield can show up and fill the gaps in Intel’s product stack."

    I love you Anand, and I love your tech analysis. But it might be worth your team acquiring a business analyst, or at least asking those sorts of questions of your informants.

    Silvermont does not "fill the hole in Intel's product stack" because that hole is business-based not tech-based. We saw the prices of Haswell a few days ago --- $250 and way up. Meanwhile the price of a high-end ARM SoC is, what, $20? That's one hell of a difference.

    The problem intel faces is that, for many purposes, it's perfectly adequate to pay for the $20 ARM CPU rather than the $250 Intel CPU. Silvermont and the whole Atom strategy, rather than making things better make things worse. Yes, now maybe Intel captures $20 from sale of an Atom --- but that Atom is ALSO able to replace Haswell (or at least lower-end but still more expensive Intel CPUs). The SMART Intel strategy would have been to acquire an ARM ISA license, making competitive ARM CPUs at $20 (so you still capture from that market) but at least avoid competing so directly with your more expensive line.

    Intel's problems from here on out are business problems. They have to compete with an architecture that is simple enough that Apple could put together a competitive CPU starting from scratch in two years, and they have to do so using an architecture that is so complicated it took Intel 5 years to out together a competitive CPU. Meanwhile they can't charge Haswell prices to maintain the massive parallel design teams that are required to create these ever more sophisticated x86 designs.
    (And, to make life even worse, apart from the myriad own goals Intel has inflicted, they have MS in the background insisting on its charges for Windows x86, one more drag on the sale x86 in the tablet market.)
    I don't think things are nearly as rosy for Intel as do you. Technically yes, they are well-positioned right now. But they seem to be in the position of DEC or IBM in the early 80s --- technically superb, but with an extremely problematic business model. And it's business model that determines the future, more than technology...
  • rwei - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    IIRC Intel does have a full ARM license. But supporting ARM by making ARM parts competitive with Intel's x86 ones would be a blow to their future ability to extract economic rent for x86, as more software targeted at ARM became available.

    Much preferable to decisively beat ARM for 1-2 generations with x86 parts - if they can manage it.
  • peterfares - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    ARM is going to keep getting better and better with or without Intel. It might be smart for them to have the best ARM chips because then they'd get the money from people buying ARM chips. Not too much better than the rest that it impacts their x86 chips though. Either way, I'm glad that we can get affordable x86 computers. Until Android can truly compete with Windows on the bigger screens I'll stick with x86 Windows. Android is a LONG ways away from being able to replace Windows for me. Intel is in a tough position though.
  • meacupla - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    The main short comings with ARM are the lack of processing power and the massive power consumption increase with faster chips. These chips are good enough for a majority of users and the OS' that run on them support just enough games and programs to keep those users happy.

    Intel, on the other hand, have chips that are fast, but need to get their power consumption and heat output lower. There's no shortage of games and programs that only run on x86, so if you need to run a specific program that won't work on ARM, your choices become quite limited.
  • Amagus - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - link

    Is the increased battery size without increasing size/weight of the system a result of a better battery/design by Acer, or is it directly influenced by Haswell (eg lighter/smaller platform)? I noticed the thing happened with the Sony Vaio Duo Haswell design...they stuck in a bigger battery (in addition to a bigger screen) but it's weight barely went up to.

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