In a renewed focus on the desktop market, Intel recently hired Lisa Graff to act as their GM and VP of its Desktop Client Platforms Group. She is completely revamping their desktop roadmap, and spoke about it at GDC today. She had quite a few interesting things to say that will be of utmost interest to readers of sites like HCW.
If you read nothing but the big tech blogs, you probably assume that the desktop market is all but dead. Everyone is abandoning them in favor of laptops, tablets, phones, and goggles. Intel missed the boat, and ARM is taking over.
Except that’s not really the case, according to Graff. The desktop market may not be growing as fast as mobile, but it’s still huge, bringing in $14 billion in revenue last year. And while it has slipped throughout the last few years, it actually grew by 7% in Q4 2013, compared to Q4 2012. The key here is not just that it’s a big market, but Intel wants to make it bigger. That is a good thing for us.
Looking at our CPU reviews of Intel’s last two CPU architecture refreshes, you can deduce that their policy has been to develop for mobile, and ramp things up a bit for desktop. This has led to great improvements in power consumption, but not so much in pure performance. Overclocking has gotten worse, as has the need for greater cooling capacity. Thankfully, Graff is addressing these issues directly.
Devil’s Canyon – Goodbye, crappy Haswell TIM
Later this year, Intel will launch a new CPU based on Haswell called Devil’s Canyon. Rather than have a heatplate sitting on top of the die with some thermal interface material like current Haswell products, Devil’s Canyon will feature an all new package with better TIM to improve cooling capacity and overclocking headroom. No longer will the most hardcore need to delid their CPUs, potentially destroying them. Even without overclocking, base clock speeds should be better -we’ll have to wait and see. These will be compatible with 9-series chipsets, so yes, you’ll need yet another new motherboard. I guess some things aren’t changing…
The Return of Celery?
Remember when you could save tons of money by buying low end Celeron CPUs and overclocking them to perform like more expensive models? Intel’s policy of late has been the opposite of that – only high end models could be overclocked, which kind of defeats the purpose. However later this year they are releasing an “anniversary edition” of the Pentium brand CPU. This will be a dual core Haswell based CPU that is completely unlocked. If they are available for around $100 and can be overclocked to the same level as the Core i7… that would be an interesting product indeed.
Broadwell Coming to Desktop After All
The rumors have changed over the months, with Broadwell going from a mobile only product, to embedded only, to who knows what. Well Graff has finally set the record straight, and revealed that Broadwell will be available as a socketed desktop CPU, compatible with 9-series chipsets. And on top of that, it will be unlocked for overclocking.
Haswell-E Is Coming
So far we have discovered a new Haswell CPU for overclocking, a new dual core Haswell for overclocking, and a new Broadwell CPU (Intels “Tock” at 14 nm) but they aren’t finished there. Coming some time in the second half of this year, Intel will release the “Extreme Edition” of Haswell, based on the current Xeon lineup. Unlike previous “Extreme” CPUs that are actually somewhat crippled compared to their Xeon counterparts, Haswell-E will be able to use all 8 of its cores (and that is good for 16 threads with Hyperthreading), and support for DDR4 memory. Presumably L3 cache will be at full capacity as well. As you’d expect, another new chipset is coming – X99.
As a desktop PC enthusiast, I have to say this is the best news I’ve heard from Intel in a long time. Most of us don’t really care whether a PC uses 45W or 100W, as long as the performance is there and heat isn’t completely out of hand. Intel is addressing US for the first time in a long time, all the way from an overclockable ~$99 CPU to an Extreme model that actually deserves its name.