Intel Claims iGPUs Faster than 80% of Discrete GPUs

One of the common complaints against Intel every time they launch a new generation of CPUs is the amount of die space used for the iGPU. Since Sandy Bridge, Intel has significantly improved their iGPU while CPU performance hasn’t moved much. This has all been worth it though as Intel is claiming once again that casual and even mainstream gamers don’t need a discrete graphics card anymore. In fact, according to Intel, iGPUs are now faster than 80% of discrete cards.

Of course, Intel is only claiming those numbers since the new Skylake Iris Pro HD 580 is a massive 50% leap up in performance over past iGPUs, placing it near the likes of the GTX 750 and R 250X. While these cards may be capable of 1080p at medium settings, any CPU with the 580 is likely outside a casual or mainstream gamer’s budget. The more tame HD 530 that most users have is unlikely to be useful for anything higher than 720p low/medium in any mainstream games. That makes it safe to say that the 750 and 250X are probably faster than 100% of iGPUs.

Nevertheless, iGPUs have become much more relevant than in the past. AMD has their own line of APUs and both firms undoubtedly want users to choose them not just based on CPU performance but for the iGPU as well. Even with all the talk, the move to 4K and VR and ever more demanding games at 1080p will likely move gaming out of reach for iGPUs once again.

Intel to Improve iGPU Performance With Skylake

Something that Intel always struggled with in the past was the internal graphics processing units (iGPU), mainly the performance (or lack of) compared to the AMD counterpart. Although, Intel did make an improvement thanks to the Iris and Iris Pro graphics cores.

With the upcoming launch of Intel Skylake processors, we can expect to see the new graphics cores utilised to the fullest potentials. The CPU’s will come in 4 key variants, Skylake-S (Desktop), Skylake-H (High-Performance Mobile), Skylake-Y (Low TDP) and Skylake-U (Ultra Low Power); all of which will be poised at all possible consumer markets in terms of price and performance.

Earlier today, WFFCTech compiled a list of the comparable differences between the Skylake and Broadwell variants of the iGPU. Thanks to Compubench, information was sourced regarding 3 new CPU’s, the Core m3-6Y30 which is the successor to the Core M5Y31, the Core i5-6200U which is the successor to the Core i5-5200U and finally an unknown CPU with Iris Graphics 540; which was compared against the Core i5-5257U with Iris Graphics 6100.

“The Core i5-6200U which is powered by the HD Graphics 520 iGPU is the successor of the Core i5-5200U that features the HD Graphics 5500 iGPU. Being a GT2 level Broadwell graphics chip, the HD Graphics 5200 features 24 execution units, 1300 million transistors and a clock speed ranging from 300 MHz (Base) up to 950 MHz (Boost) clock. The HD Graphics 520 iGPU could also be a GT2 level core with 24 execution units while the more performance heavy GT3e variants featured on faster Core i7 variants will be integrated with 48 execution units and 64 MB eDRAM LLC (Last Level Cache).”

“The Core M-6Y30 will be powered by the HD Graphics 515 iGPU that is the successor to the Core M-5Y31 which is part of the Broadwell-Y lineup that launched last year. The HD 5300 featured on the Core M-5Y31 is powered by 24 execution units and a clock speed of 300 MHz (Base) and 900 MHz (Boost) clock speeds. All Broadwell-Y Core M processors are based on the HD Graphics 5300 core which is the entry level iGPU chip but that will kind of change with Skylake-Y which will be getting GT1 and GT1.5 chips with 12 and 18 Execution units each that deliver better performance per core unit and faster clocks.”

“Finally we have the Iris Graphics 540 which is the successor to the Iris Graphics 6100. Note that these are not the Iris Pro variants being compared which feature higher execution units and clock speeds. The current Iris Graphics 6100 core features 48 Execution units, 1900 Million transistors and clock speeds of 300 MHz (base) and 1100 MHz (Boost). The Iris Graphics 540 will feature similar amount of execution units with faster clocks and a eDRAM cache of 64 MB. A faster GT4e graphics core is also confirmed which will be part of the Iris Pro Graphics 550 with 72 Execution units and 128 MB cache but we don’t have any specific results for the chip. The performance of these chips can be seen in the pictures below but do note that they aren’t represnetative of final performance nor do they showcase actual gaming performance you might expect from the processor it self. There are notable improvements from these chips which shows Intel did make some graphics architecture updates on Skylake platform.”

As you can see, there are noticeable improvements, but there is no information on the high-end i7-6700k or i5-6600k; which I’m sure is what everyone wants to see. Will you be buying a different variant of the Skylake line up other than the ‘K’ series? Let us know in the comments.

Revolutionary Chemical Iris Could Bring Smaller Cameras to Smartphones

A normal iris has physical blades which move in order to change the amount of light entering the lens. More light enters when wider and less when closing down. The same principle is applied to cameras found in some smartphones nowadays too. A new chemical iris however tends to change the way our cameras on smartphones work. It is said that the new iris drops the need for physical blades and in turn reduces the overall size of a camera module. The miniaturization of bladed cameras is really quite tricky, since the module still requires the need of a actuator to move the blades.

Researchers in Germany have apparently solved the problem of creating miniaturized cameras with the help of a new iris which uses transparent chemical rings, giving it the ability to become opaque when a voltage is applied to it. The iris is said to measure in at just 55 micrometers thick, granting smartphones the ability to house much smaller and thinner camera modules. The design is said to feature two glass substrates pressed together with an iridium tin oxide layer on each side. A thin layer of electrochromic polymer is also said to be present on both glass substrates, formed into rings that create the chemical iris.

It is said that the iris needs only 1.5V to turn opaque, an ideally low voltage for smartphones and other mobile devices. A research paper states that a 1,200 mAh battery grants enough power to maintain the iris-state for about 60,000 hours. Having the aperture a perfect circle rather than shaped by overlapping blades will also give a more pleasing effect on the shallow depth of field effect and deliver smoother bokeh.

The new iris is said to still be in its early stages, but the researchers stated to help develop it even further since the new technology could deliver more flexibility and also bring the full manual controls seen on professional camera to mobile photography.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet

Gigabyte Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R Ultra Compact Barebones System Review

Introduction


In the early stages of last year, Intel released one of the biggest products of 2013 into the market place and no – it was not Haswell. What I am referring to here is the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC as it is more commonly known. Part of what makes this product so special is its ultra compact design, but on top of that, the system that’s tucked inside has a little more to offer over what one would expect from a system of its size. When we took a look at the first generation NUC and also Gigabyte’s own first generation Brix, the results that we got back showed the performance to be somewhat average, leaving them at the entry-level end of the scale. Consequently, these systems are ideal for basic home office use, but if you want a little more grunt from your system then sadly these early units just won’t cut the mustard.

Since those reviews went live, we have seen a number of Brix branded systems come out of the Gigabyte factories and towards the end of last year we caught wind that there was something special on the way which could potentially remodel the entry-level image that the first generation systems have given us. The question is though, can we really get desktop performance out of a unit this small? Granted this new creation is twice as tall as the first generation Brix, but are we getting substantially more performance as well? Bring forward the Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R.

When we take a look at the spec list that the Brix Pro has on offer, the biggest difference that we have to note is the step up to Intel’s high performance i7 Haswell CPU. Obviously we shouldn’t be expecting a 4770k to be residing in a system of these dimensions, however the 4770R that we do have is actually not a million miles off what its bigger brother has to offer. With a TDP of 65w and a core clock speed of 3.2GHz boosting up to 3.9GHz, there is certainly a lot of poke beneath the covers so we have got the spirit of a 4770k, although overclocking is not present and the power envelope has been reduced to save on the power consumption.

  • Model: GB-BXi7-4770R
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770R @ 3.9GHz
  • Cooler: Copper heatsink with blower fan
  • RAM: Support for up to 16GB 1333 /1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM
  • Storage: mSATA slot plus SATA header for 7.0/9.5mm 2.5″ drives
  • GPU: Intel Iris Pro 5200 Onboard GPU
  • PSU: External 135W DC adaptor
  • Network: Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit LAN, AzureWave AW-CB161H mini PCIe 802.11ac WLAN / BT 4.0 combo
  • Misc: HDMI & mDP display outputs, 4x USB3.0, 3.5mm audio / SPDIF, VESA 75 & VESA 100 compatible
  • Warranty: 2 Year Standard
  • Price: £510.20 inc Vat @ Scan / $649.79 @ Newegg.com

Naturally it is a little hard to test a barebones system as it is so we need to add in a couple of key components before we can put everything through its paces. Over the specifications listed above, a 240GB Intel 525 series mSATA SSD and a 1TB WD Red 2.5″ HDD have been added for storage along with 8GB of Kingston’s 1600MHz ValueRAM.

In addition to the i7 processor, the other key component that the Brix Pro has to offer is Intel’s latest Iris Pro 5200 series graphics. Now at this point I can imagine that a few of you out there are shrugging your shoulders at the thought of Intel graphics, but Iris Pro is nothing like the HD4000 series graphics that we find onboard a 4770k for example. Simply put Intel have stepped up their game with Iris and reworked the way in which their graphics core works to offer up much more power and performance. In simple terms this means that there is the potential for gaming at an average level of detail and this is there for the reason why the Brix Pro has been featured recently as part of the Steam Box era.

Whilst I do state that gaming is a potential application for the Brix Pro, the more modest graphics performance that Iris has to offer is not going to make the Brix Pro the perfect alternative for your full-fat pixel pushing gaming rig – it is just a more tame alternative. Where the Brix Pro is also suited is with the prosumer user group, where image editing and design work requires the more powerful Intel processors and where applications such as Adobe Photoshop relish when surrounded by the higher specified components. By the time we take the price of the bare system and add on the extra components that we have used here (not including operating system) we are looking at a ball park purchase price of around £880 in the UK or around $1080 in the US.

Like the Brix Pro, the packaging is condensed right down with almost no space going to waste. Tucked neatly inside the box, Gigabyte include a full driver set and setup guide, regional power adaptor, VESA bracket and screws for mounting the system to the back of a monitor and finally a small rubber bung to close off the SPDIF output on the front of the system.

South Carolina University Testing Iris Scanner Security

Do you ever worry about how secure something might be, say your personal data that companies, or maybe even schools that you have attended have on file. Of course not, most people just assume that information that is kept on file is kept under lock and key. Unfortunately that is not always the case, and today we can look at the possibility of iris scanners. Iris scanners are not the same technology as retinal scanners. An iris scanner looks at the outside of an eye, using an infrared light.

Mashable reported earlier today about a small college in South Carolina is testing this new security method with their administrators. Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina is testing out the iris scanners to keep certain buildings secure for about four months now. It seems fairly straight forward and simple, students and faculty stand in front of a mirror, behind the mirror is a camera. The camera is able to work with specially designed software to measure the shape of an eye in 3D as well as record 250 data points on the eye. Once an eye is scanned it is saved in a database for later use, giving the user the ability to gain access to a building with only their eyes.

If someone wants to gain access to a secure building they will need to stand at the door and look at the mirror, the user will then be prompted to look at the mirror allowing the camera and the computer to scan and analyze the eye, then it will either allow or deny access to the building.

This is not a new technology, though it is a near foolproof security method, at this time it is not possible to duplicate someones iris, but would you want just anyone to have the information on your iris stored in a random computer?

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Intel Releases Details on Haswell Iris 5000 Graphics Capabilities

The release of Haswell is not far away now and while the latest CPU hardware from Intel is expected to bring reduced power consumption and increased processing performance, it is also expect to bring with it some massively improved on board graphics and Intel is finally willing to share just what that part of the new chips will be a capable of.

The new generation of Haswell chips will use a GPU called Iris, and if the numbers are to be believed, they’re a massive improvement over previous integrated Intel solutions.

The Iris 5000 GPU is said to be 1.5x faster than the HD 4000 which we saw in the high end choices of Ivy Bridge, but its still efficient enough to be used in devices such as Ultrabooks given that is can be fitted with 15w parts and that will ensure it has a seriously low thermal output for such a device.

For even more power Intel have the Iris 5100 which will be reserved for 28w chips and this offers a much more impressive 2x performance gain on the HD 4000 chips.

Yet that performance gains don’t end there and for 47w chips the Iris Pro 5200 will offer up an eye watering 2.5x performance gain on HD 4000, while the Iris Pro can see performance increases of around 2.9x and at nearly 3x the performance of the previous generation, while still increasing CPU power and even more so still reducing overall power usage, Intel really could have out done themselves with Haswell.

Of course Iris will support all the major modern features such as DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0, 4Kx2K, OpenCL 1.2 and triple displays, yet I wouldn’t expect it to be ideal for PC gaming, but on a productivity or workplace environment, this is still a massive gain over previous generations.