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AMD’s Latest chips tested
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Intel’s last CPU Could Haswell be Intel's final desktop processor?
¤ Core technologies explained ¤ CPUs, mobos and PCs in the labs ¤ New Core i5 and i7 CPUs benched
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6 Intel’s last CPU? Haswell is here at last, but fails to impress on the desktop – are these the end times?
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The last desktop CPU?
Intel has unleashed the fourth-gen Haswell chips on a suspecting market. Jeremy Laird investigates what that means for your desktop
The last desktop CPU? T
ick-tock. That’s the sound of Intel’s processor development clock. Things have fallen a teensy bit behind schedule since Intel originally introduced its cadence of new processor technology launches, but it’s still been a deeply impressive run since those first Core processors back in 2006. Each new generation has undoubtedly been the best PC processor money can buy. Meanwhile, Intel has kept its production technology on track. For decades, industry observers have questioned its ability to keep shrinking transistors. Surely the laws of physics will eventually kybosh further processor progress? But here we are in 2013 with a new family of 22nm processors from Intel, and 14nm chips due next year. So has Intel done it again with Haswell, proudly pitched as the fourth generation
Intel Core architecture? As we’ll find out, the answer is a little bit from box A and a little from box B. Where Intel has failed us, those failures are entirely intentional. Where it has succeeded, that success reflects Intel current, and likely future, priorities. To put it simply, Intel’s consumer-level processors have been all about mobility ever since those first Core processors in 2006. But with Haswell, that focus has almost entirely put paid to progressing the pure CPU part of the chip in desktop performance terms. We’ll find out more about this bias as we dig deeper into the technicalities of the new Haswell chips, but what was a niggling doubt with previous processors has now become almost painfully obvious: Intel has done almost nothing to improve the desktop experience with Haswell. You could even argue the new chips
are a something of a step backwards in some regards. Exactly what you should take from that depends on what you want from a PC. We love all kinds of machines, and thus we’re used to taking the good with the bad. The work Intel has done with both power consumption and integrated graphics is all kinds of awesome for mobile systems – laptops and tablets especially have come a long way. It’s also very promising for a new generation of ultra-compact PCs, including Intel’s own NUC. At the same time though, there’s no avoiding the disappointment that Intel can’t be a little more generous to its faithful fans of the traditional high-performance desktop rig. In truth, the only faint hope there is for AMD to put Intel under much, much more pressure.
The last desktop CPU?