Intel's upcoming 'Haswell' chip primed for gaming

Chipmaker's upcoming 'Haswell' processor isn't just about better battery life. It's better at gaming too.

On future Haswell chips, more realistic rendering is enabled (R).
On future Haswell chips, more realistic rendering is enabled (R). Anandtech

Intel wants to make its future "Haswell" chip better than past generations of silicon at gaming and announced tools to make this happen at the Game Developers Conference today.

The world's largest chipmaker announced tools, known as extensions, for software developers that allow Intel's 4th generation Intel Core, aka Haswell, to process demanding special effects.

The first of these extensions, called PixelSync, allows programmers to more realistically render smoke, hair, windows, foliage, fences, and other complex geometry and natural phenomena, according to Intel.

"The artists working on Grid2 have been requesting this type of effect for years, and prior to this, it wasn't possible to achieve it at a reasonable cost," Clive Moody, senior executive producer at Codemasters Racing, the game's developer, said in a statement.

The expected widespread adoption of Haswell on tens of millions of PCs "is very exciting to us," he added.

PixelSync enables a feature called Order Independent Transparency (OIT). "Given that Haswell...will be more limited on memory and memory bandwidth than the highest end discrete [graphics processing units], it makes sense that Intel is motivated to find a smaller footprint and more bandwidth efficient way to implement OIT," said Anandtech.

Intel also announced InstantAccess, which makes accessing data located in Haswell's central processing unit and graphics processing unit -- CPU and GPU, respectively -- more efficient.

Developers of the game Total War: Rome II expect this feature to ensure "that the game looks great whether you're running it on a slim and sexy ultrabook or a monster desktop," the company said in a statement.

Haswell, due this summer. is expected to boast two big improvements: battery life and graphics -- the latter will improve gaming and media processing.

Intel's Haswell-based concept design announced at 2013 CES.
Intel's Haswell-based concept design announced at 2013 CES. CNET
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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