Framerate improvements are around 10 percent in games, up to 30 percent in GPU compute; also bumps new Core M chips

At the IFA 2014 (Sept. 5-10th) mobile electronics trade show in Berlin, German a hot topic was Intel Corp.'s (INTC) brand new fifth-generation Core processors, based on the chipmaker's Broadwell architecture.  Broadwell, a die shrink of Haswell, is the first widely available commercial CPU based on a 14 nanometer process.  Not suprisingly PC OEM partners are lining up to adopt these new chips, which afford substantial power and heat savings to mobile devices.

The current family of cores is branded "Core M" and currently consists of two chips currently -- the SY10 (and its downclocked 4 W variant) and the SY70.  By default both Core M chips are dual-core designs with a 4.5W TDP.

IIntel Core M models

These cores will be joined later in the year by beefier Broadwell U cores, which will be used in Core i3, i5, and i7 branded processors for desktops and heavy gaming laptops.  Broadwell U will be followed (or perhaps accompanied by) another ultramobile release, the lower-end Airmont, the 14 nm die shrink of the Silvermont.  These new lower power Atom cores will launch in different segments; the Bay Trail replacement for laptops, convertibles, and tablets, for example, is expected to be dubbed Cherry Trail.

For now, though Intel is primarily focused on ongoing sales of older Haswell-based chip stock for the desktop and gaming laptop market; Intel Atom (Silvermont) for budget smartphones, tablets, and convertibles; and the Broadwell-based chips for the high end ultramobile market.

Intel Broadwell

With that in mind Intel has just rolled out a new set of graphics drivers which enhance both its new and old chips alike.  The new drivers support:
  • Core M
    • Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • Haswell
    • Pentium
      • HD Graphics (10 EU unit module) (found in Pentium 3XXX M/U/Y)
    • Celeron
      • HD Graphics (10 EU unit module) (found in Celeron 2XXX E/M/U/Y)
    • Core i3/i5/i7
      • Intel HD Graphics 4200/4400/4600/5000 (found in chips ending in 'H', 'K', 'M', 'S', 'U' 'T', 'Y' "0U", "EQ", and "MQ")
      • Intel "Iris" Graphics 5100 (denoted by chips ending in "8U")
      • Intel "Iris Pro" Graphics 5200 (denoted by chips ending in 'R' or "HQ")
It's worth noting that the Intel HD Graphics 5300, is the new GPU found on-die in Core M processors.  It is clocked at 850 MHz and adds support for 4K graphics.

Intel HD 5300

However, as the Intel Core M-based ultramobile devices won't be available until next month, the immediate effects of the drivers will be felt most in ultramobiles based on fourth-generation Core i3/i5/i7 processors.  These include Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) latest MacBook Airs (Intel HD 5000) and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Surface 3 Pro (Intel HD 4200 @ $799; Intel HD 4400 @ $999, $1,299 USD; Intel HD 5000 @ $1,549, $1,949 USD).

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Whether you're dealing with a fourth- or fifth-generation Core series, Celeron, or Pentium chip with an Intel HD or Iris on-die GPU (dGPU), the new drivers should offer a number of gains including:
  • GPU compute
    • 30 percent faster OpenCL 2.0 performance
    • Accelerates your browser's rendering engine, Adobe Systems Inc.'s (ADBE) Photoshop, etc.
  • Support for new gaming standards
    • OpenGL 4.3 support
    • DirectX 11.2 support
  • Support for new algorithms
    • Conservative morphological anti-aliasing (CMAA)
      • A new technique for lower-end devices to perform anti-aliasing, the smoothing of jagged edges
    • Adaptive rendering
      • Only rerenders frames when the scene changes
      • Saves power in low-framerate games like puzzle games or Angry Birds
  • Game framerate improvements
    • Generally 8-12 percent in select titles, 3-7 percent in some additional titles

      Intel update
  • Improved control panel interface
    • Supports portrait mode (on tablets)
    • Lists connected displays
    • Adaptive contrast support
  • Bugfixes
    • Fixed slowdown in Netflix Inc.'s (NFLX) Dolby 5.1 enabled video/audio stream
    • Better responsiveness for mouse movement on wireless displays with Miracast
The new drivers can be grabbed here.

Overall Intel is bragging that its new Core M processors are "two to three times faster" than the Snapdragon 805, a 28 nanometer tablet and smartphone system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM).

Intel Core M SoC
Intel claims it has the best SoC out there with the Core M [Image Source: Intel]

However, the Snapdragon 805 is believed to have a 2-2.5 watt TDP for smartphones; 4 watt for tablets, so you're talking about a chip that uses anywhere from 15 to 50 percent less power(as Qualcomm claims it to be 20% lower power consumption than the Snapdragon 800 which had quoted TDPs of 2.5-3 W for smartphones and 5 W for tablets).  

Plus the Snapdragon 805 has built in circuitry to process camera output and to perform baseband processing on incoming and outgoing cellular data.  Thus Intel's decision to compare the Core M to the Snapdragon 805 is somewhat curious given the substantial differences between the chips.

And the final unmentioned differentiator is price.  So far most convertibles based on the Core M we've seen start at around $999 USD.  By contrast the cheapest Snapdragon 805 devices may be half that price.  Based on that, we're guessing the Snapdragon 805 is significantly cheaper than a Core M, but how much cheaper is speculation at this point.

Sources: Intel [1], [2; PDF]

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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