The first products based on Intel’s Broadwell chips were introduced last fall, but it was not a smooth launch. Yield problems with the company’s new 14nm manufacturing process forced Intel to stagger Broadwell’s rollout. The low-power, low-performance Core M chips came first, followed by faster U-series dual-core parts a few months later. And today, the rollout ends with the release of a dozen higher-performance quad-core chips destined for enthusiast- and workstation-class desktops and laptops.
Though these chips will probably bring improvements in power consumption and CPU performance, the real star is Intel’s new top-end integrated GPU, the Iris Pro 6200. For the first time, Intel is offering Iris Pro as a socketed desktop part rather than a BGA version soldered to motherboards.
We’ll get performance numbers when we actually have finished systems to test, but for now let’s run down what Intel is promising, what chips it’s releasing, and what kinds of systems they’re going to end up in.
A limited launch
Intel is releasing a limited number of these quad-core Broadwell processors, focused mostly on chips that will go into systems that walk the line between size and performance (think Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro on the laptop side or Gigabyte’s Brix Pro desktop). There are five desktop chips and five laptop chips, for a total of 10.
Other systems, particularly midrange and low-end desktops currently served by Haswell chips, are going to have to keep waiting. As we reported last year, Broadwell is skipping these kinds of systems entirely—the next versions of those chips will be based on the next-generation Skylake architecture, which will bring with it new chipsets and a new CPU socket.