New video and graphics features of Haswell CPUs
Intel Haswell microarchitecture and Shark Bay platform, expected to launch in 2013, will incorporate many improvements to existing chip components, along with new features. This week we already provided details on die and packaging options for Haswell microprocessors, and mentioned All-In-One version of the chip with both CPU and Lynx Point chipset integrated in a package. Other notable new and enhanced Haswell features are AVX 2.0 extensions, improvements to AES instructions, better overclocking support, on-chip Voltage Regulator, new low power states on ULT processors, and support for DDR3L memory, just to name a few. There will be also many changes to display and graphics components. They are described in greater detail below.
Current Chief River/Maho Bay platforms integrate digital and analog video interfaces in the chipset. Analog interface (VGA) on the Shark Bay platform stays with the Lynx Point chipset, but the Digital Display Interfaces (DDIs) are moved to the processor. Haswell CPUs include three digital ports, that can be configured as HDMI, DisplayPort or DVI, and work independently from each other. There are some limitations, though. For instance, it's not possible to set all three ports to HDMI or DVI interface, but it is possible to set all three to DisplayPort. Digital ports support HDMI v1.4a and DisplayPort v1.2 interfaces, and can work with resolutions up to 3200x2000 at 60 Hz with DisplayPort, or up to 4Kx2K at 24 Hz with HDMI interfaces. In addition to three digital ports, the CPUs have one embedded DisplayPort (eDP), and one Flexible display Interface, that can be re-configured as the second eDP port. eDP ports support Panel Self Refresh feature, that stores displayed picture in a local video memory, which allows graphic controller to power down when the picture doesn't change. This feature works for single eDP display only. Another low-power feature is LPSP, or Low Power Single Pipe.
Graphics unit on Haswell CPUs was improved to provide hardware acceleration for a number of different video formats. The GPU can decode JPEG, Motion JPEG, Multi-view Video Coding (MVC) and Scalable Video Codec (SVC) streams. The processors can also encode streams into MPEG2 or SVC format, and has better encoding performance for AVC format. A number of video processing features were added to the GPU. New gamut conversion feature is used to adjust color palette to match the source video and the display. To improve playback of the content, recorded at low frame rates, the chip employs Frame Rate Conversion. This feature uses data from adjacent frames to generate new intermediate frames, and present it on a screen with high refresh rate, which results in smoother video playback. Other new processing features are image stabilization and JPEG large frame support.
3D graphics engine on Haswell CPUs was also greatly improved. Haswell chips may have one of the three graphics controllers: GT1, GT2 or GT3, aimed at entry-level, mainstream, and performance graphics respectively. The controllers differ by the number of execution units. The GT3 controller can have up to 40 execution units, however we don't know exact number. The GT3 also comes with an extra on-package cache. The 3D engine on Haswell CPUs has a few enhancements, such as wider data paths in the engine, and improvements to Sampler and Geometry units. The GPU now supports DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.2 APIs. According to Intel, average performance of the Haswell GT1 unit is 15% - 25% better than performance of Ivy Bridge GT1, and Haswell GT2 is also 15% - 25% faster than IVB GT2. GT3 graphics has 50% - 100% better performance than performance of Ivy Bridge GT2 GPUs.
Information in the story was compiled from multiple sources, some of which could be outdated. All specifications and details, published here, are preliminary, and Intel may change those at their own discretion.
Related News (newer articles):
Jan 27, 2013: Haswell GT3 graphics to launch in Q3 2013
Dec 29, 2012: Intel Haswell CPUs delayed until June 2013
Aug 31, 2012: Basic features of Haswell Core, Pentium and Celeron CPUs
Related News (older articles):
Aug 21, 2012: Package options of desktop and mobile Haswell processors
Jul 10, 2012: Launch schedule of Intel Haswell processors
Nov 11, 2011: Details of Intel Haswell microarchitecture leaked