- May 4, 2013
Intel is facing its biggest challenge in years. Despite dominating the processor market for desktop PCs and laptops, the emergence of the smartphone and tablet has seemingly caught the company by surprise, with only its Atom offerings to keep it in the game. What the firm needs is for its unbeatable Core technology to scale down to tablets and more energy-efficient laptops in order to head off the challenge from ARM. Its new architecture, dubbed "Haswell", is the first step on the journey to making that happen.
But this new CPU design is not just about power efficiency. In the era of tighter integration between CPU and graphics, Intel's exciting solutions have been somewhat lop-sided - market-leading in terms of pure processing but lagging behind when it comes to integrated GPU technology. With Haswell, Intel is looking to share-steal from AMD and Nvidia in the lucrative premium notebook market, by offering a significantly enhanced integrated graphics chip that makes the need for bundling a low or medium-range GPU alongside their excellent processors a thing of the past.
To show the fourth-gen Core at its best, ideally we'd be looking at next-gen ultrabooks, laptops or all-in-one PCs, but the first piece of the Haswell jigsaw we're reviewing is the new Core i7 4770K - an enthusiast-level quad-core processor with hyper-threading that ships with a rated 3.5GHz clock-speed, but happily auto-overclocks itself to 3.9GHz if the processor is put under load. Sounds familiar? Well, its predecessor, the Core i7 3770K, had those exact same clock speeds. Haswell has increased performance per clock, but in its desktop guise, it's not really a game-changer.