Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

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Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

June 6, 2013 by Lawrence Lee

Intel Core i7-4770K
LGA1150 Processor
Street Price

Intel has firmly held the CPU performance lead over AMD for several years now, yet their releases continue at a brisk yet steady pace. Their last update to their mainstream desktop platform, Ivy Bridge, was released just a year ago, though it was considered a minor revision. The socket from the previous generation was reused and their was only a modest CPU speed boast, though integrated graphics received significant improvement. Their latest CPU architecture, Haswell, does require a new socket, but we wouldn't describe it as a major update either as it still shares a lot in common with its predecessor.

The Intel Core i7-4770K.

Haswell Die diagram (quad core model). 1.4 billion transistors on a 177 mm² die.

Haswell carries the same essential design of Ivy Bridge, including all the key elements from its predecessor such as 22 nm Tri-Gate transistors, Turbo Boost, Quick Sync video transcoding, and a host of virtualization and management features. Added to the mix, as usual, are updated instruction sets, this time AVX2 and AMD's FMA3, both of which primarily benefit floating point calculations and SIMD operations. There are several other minor improvements under the hood including increased bandwidth between the different cache levels, refined Turbo Boost frequencies. Power regulation has been altered as Haswell has a fully integrated voltage regulator included, and lower C-States are now supported to help boost idle energy efficiency. While idle power consumption is not terribly important on desktop systems, it's absolutely vital for the ever growing mobile market. With the world moving toward portable devices, battery life appears to be one of the biggest bottlenecks to advances in consumer technology.

Haswell Integrated Graphics Comparison
Clock Speed
GT3e: Iris Pro 5200
up to 1300 MHz
GT3: Iris 5100
up to 1300 MHz
GT3: HD Graphics 5000
up to 1100 MHz
GT2: HD Graphics 4200 / 4400 / 4600
up to 1250 MHz
GT1: HD Graphics
up to 1100 MHz

Intel's HD graphics have come a long way and the latest evolution is nothing to sneeze at. The newest version gets support for the DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and OpenGL 4.0 APIs, 4K resolution displays, and DisplayPort 1.2, along with a revamped version of Intel's Quick Sync video technology. Under the hood, the core has been redesigned to be easily scalable by using what Intel calls "sub-slices," the essential building blocks of their graphics technology which each include 10 EU's (Execution Units). Each chip in their family is essentially the same chip only with a different number of sub-slices.

The nomenclature is somewhat confusing however. There are four levels of performance denoted by the prefix "GT" but each level also have specific model names. The slower models are Intel HD Graphics, HD Graphics 4200 / 4400/ 4600, and HD Graphics 5000. The difference between 4200, 4600, and 4600 hasn't been clearly stated by Intel but our guess would be clock speed. The higher models dubbed Iris 5100 and Iris Pro 5200 will actually not be available in many desktop chips, instead they will be pushed on the mobile market where they will have a bigger impact. With regard to the fancy name, it seems to be a play on Apple's Retina Display moniker and the hopes are that Iris will evoke similar connotations. The top-of-the-line Iris Pro 5200 differs from Iris 5100 in that it is equipped with 128MB of eDRAM that acts a high throughput, low latency cache, as it resides on the same package (but not the same die).

Haswell Core i7 desktop lineup.

The first crop of Core i5/i7 Haswell chips is numerous and varied, though it's more unified than in the past in that most of the SKUs aren't missing any important features. Intel's basic Virtualization and AES-NI encryption technologies are supported by all, as are Quick Sync and Intel's Wireless Display feature. The available clock speeds are in the same range as Ivy Bridge so any performance improvements will come down to architectural differences alone.

The i7's are priced slightly higher than the previous generation, between US$300 and US$350. The entire LGA1150 lineup is poised to take the place of the older Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge parts. For many manufacturers this would mean a round of price-cuts for the older hardware but this is unlikely to happen for Intel. They typically keep the prices stagnant until they reach EOL (end of life), pushing their users onto the new platform rather giving them motivation to invest in outdated technology. For those craving low power consumption there are a few energy efficient models with TDPs of 35W, 45W, and 65W. The flagship, i7-4770K, which has an unlocked multiplier, is what we'll be testing today. Interestingly, its thermal envelope is 7W higher than its predecessor, the Ivy Bridge i7-3770K.

Haswell Core i5 desktop lineup.

The Core i5's as usual, lack Hyper-threading, so they can only handle four concurrent threads, though for most users this isn't a big deal. The i5-4670K appears to be this generation's equivalent of the i5-2500K/3570K, the quintessential lower cost overclocking-friendly chip with an unlocked multiplier.

Haswell Core i5 desktop lineup continued.

Like Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge before it, the cheapest Haswell Core i5 will set you back just under US$200, positioning themselves in a higher price range than any of AMD's quad core offerings.

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