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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  • FwFred - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Single package instead of two, integrated VRs instead of discrete. Perhaps this allows a smaller mainboard and allows a bigger battery?
  • piroroadkill - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Not impressed.
    Yeah, the idle time battery life is better, but that GPU is super-lousy. In my opinion, Intel have done themselves a massive disservice by making crappy GPUs available with Haswell. The choice should be only 5100 and 5200. The others are a total waste of time, and barely interesting over HD 4000.
  • nunomoreira10 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    There is not a single 5100 17w sku, and the reason is power.
    intel is going the nvidea and amd road, choices, this is the budget i7, want more, pay more.
  • mikebelle - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    I still think he has a point though. While some consumers may prefer the battery life and/or cost savings. Intel seems to have made it very difficult to get access to any of there 5000 series graphics. I wouldn't be surprised to see Iris and Iris Pro come to a few Core i5 parts during Haswell's "refresh".
  • samkathungu - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Is it just me or are the releases coming from Intel about all the flavours of Haswell getting a little confusing? Probably a better communications strategy next time will benefit consumers.
    The confusion over what graphics ships with the desktop or mobile parts is not pleasant.
  • vipw - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Maybe I'm bad at counting, but it still looks like there are two chips on the package.
  • sheh - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    When are the i5 43xxM and 42xxM are going to be available?
  • darthrevan13 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    So no more PCIe 2.0? Will Thunderbolt be available for ULT/ULX processors? You could in theory connect a dGPU through that, right?
  • Sugardaddy - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    On page 2, you state that "any hopes for pairing a meaningfully high performance discrete GPU with Haswell ULT are dead."

    But there is a lot of Ultrabooks coming out like the Aspire S3-392 with a discrete GT 735M, which is probably 50%-100% faster than the 620M in last year's Asus UX32VD.

    How does that fit together? Is the 735M not "meaningfully faster" than HD4400/HD5000?
  • extide - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    I was hoping charlie would be wrong. Sadly, he was right, Intel took away PCIe 3.0 and all CPU based PCIe lanes from this CPU. This is how the kill off AMD/nVidia competition, make it literally not an option. Scary as hell, I hope they don't start doing this to higher TDP SKU's.

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