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The First Experience Of Intel Haswell On Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 1 June 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 47 Comments

Haswell is here, Haswell is here, Haswell is here!!! After talking for months about the Linux kernel and driver development for Intel's Ivy Bridge successor, the heatsink can be lifted today on talking about Intel's Haswell processor. For the past few weeks I have been running and benchmarking an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor on Linux to mixed success. While the Haswell improvements are terrific, the Linux experience now is awaiting improvements.

Haswell is Intel's fourth-generation Core processor family, succeeding the year-old Ivy Bridge processor. Haswell has been hyped in recent months over its lower power consumption as well as delivering much-improved graphics performance over Ivy Bridge. Intel claims that Haswell will lead to the thinnest touch PC designs ever, the biggest battery life increases in Intel's history, and unprecedented graphics performance for ultra-thin computing.

Intel's Haswell processors feature enhanced tuning/overclocking support with a variable base clock, Haswell New Instructions with Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2) / BMI2 / FMA3 support, utilize the new LGA-1150 CPU socket, provide Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) to support transactional memory in the x86 world, Supervisor Mode Access Prevention (SMAP), a new power-saving system, and other new capabilities. Carried over from Ivy Bridge is the use of a 22nm process with 3D trigate transistors and the CPUs using a 14-stage pipeline.

Intel's press information went as far as calling their fourth-generation Intel Core family being the biggest driver of PC innovation in the past decade with a new generation of ultra-thin lightweight notebooks coming, the biggest battery life increases in Intel's history, and unprecedented graphics in ultra-thin form factors.

With Haswell the integrated graphics are slated to be up to twice the performance compared to Ivy Bridge and offer a level of performance comparable to a discrete graphics card. Haswell's graphics core is compatible with Microsoft DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and OpenGL 4.0. Haswell's graphics core can power three displays simultaneously and is compatible with 4Kx2K outputs. There are several different graphics cores for Haswell with GT1 being the normal Intel HD graphics, GT2 being HD 4600/4400/4200 graphics, GT3 15W being Intel HD 5000 graphics, GT3 28W being Intel Iris 5100 graphics, and GT3e being Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics.

The Intel 8-Series chipsets that come with the new LGA-1150 chipset for Haswell feature up to 14 USB ports, six USB 3.0 capable ports, up to eight PCI Express 2.0 slots, and six Serial ATA slots with 6 Gb/s connectivity. Notable with the Intel 8-Series chipsets is that they remove all support for legacy PCI and only PCI Express slots will be found with the new Haswell/Broadwell motherboards.

The Intel Core i7 4770K processor that I was seeded in advanced with from Intel is an unlocked CPU that has an 84 Watt TDP, four cores with Hyper Threading, a 3.5GHz base frequency with 3.9GHz Turbo Boost, support for DDR3-1333/1600MHz memory, 8MB of L3 cache, Intel HD 4600 graphics with up to a 1250MHz CPU core clock, AVX2 / AES-NI / Quick Sync / vPro / VT-d support, and will be priced retail at around $339 USD.

That's the short story on Intel's Haswell processors. You've likely already read about the expected Haswell features in recent months, most of which panned out to be fact, and so now let's get to the interesting part... The Linux support.

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