Intel Corporation Finally Launches Quad-Core Broadwell

Intel finally launched the remaining members of its client-oriented Broadwell processors -- the quad-core variants with Iris Pro graphics. Intel released variants in BGA packaging (soldered down) as well as LGA packaging (user-swappable) for desktops.

Intel's quad-core Broadwell for high-performance PCs is finally here. Source: Intel.

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These parts were quite delayed, no doubt thanks to the yield issues that Intel experienced in ramping up its new 14-nanometer manufacturing process. However, they're finally here and they round out the Broadwell family.

Let's look at the chips Intel is launching and how they fit in to Intel's overall PC chip strategy.

Quad- and dual-core variants, mostly with Iris Pro graphicsAccording to AnandTech, Intel is launching five different models. The top three models have four cores and Iris Pro 6200 graphics. There is also a dual-core model that comes with Iris Pro graphics. Finally, there is a quad core chip that lacks the on-die eDRAM and half of the graphics compute units that the Iris Pro models have.

All of these chips are rated at a 47-watt thermal design power.

In terms of graphics performance, these chips should be a fair bit faster than the previous-generation Haswell chips that they replace. The base CPU frequencies of these chips go up a smidge relative to prior-generation Haswell parts, too, but the improvements aren't large.

However, max turbo CPU speeds come down relative to the latest "Haswell refresh" parts. For example, the 4980HQ runs at 2.8GHz base and 4.00GHz max turbo; the 5950HQ runs at 2.9GHz base but just 3.7GHz turbo.

It seems that Broadwell is more efficient than Haswell, potentially leading to better sustained performance, but peak CPU performance doesn't really seem to move up this generation.

Unlocked Broadwell CPU for desktop shows up, tooIntel also launched its very first unlocked desktop chips with Iris Pro graphics -- the Core i5-5675C and the Core i7-5775C. According to AnandTech, these parts deliver leadership integrated graphics performance among desktop processors. This is pretty neat, given that Intel has traditionally been known for its subpar graphics performance.

It's not clear how large of a market there is for unlocked high end CPUs integrated with relatively powerful GPUs among traditional desktop users. However, AnandTech reports being told that these chips "exist because users wanted them."

In this case, it's not clear whether Intel is referring to end users in the enthusiast community or Intel's system partners. That said, I'm quite interested to see whether the demand for these initial chips is good enough such that Intel continues to release socketed desktop chips with Intel's best integrated graphics.

These chips are nice, but they would have been much more interesting in 2014If Intel had launched the suite of Broadwell products -- from the Ultrabook-focused Broadwells to the quad-core high performance chips being launched today -- back in 2014 in place of the Haswell Refresh chips that we ultimately got, then I think these chips would have been pretty exciting.

Given the significant delays of these chips, though, coupled with the fact that Intel plans to roll out its next-generation processor family called Skylake later this year, it's just hard to get terriblyexcited about these new Broadwell chips.

In fact, I think it was pretty telling that Apple didn't bother to wait for Broadwell to refresh its 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

That said, I do like that Intel is now delivering leadership graphics performance in desktops and, presumably, high-performance notebooks. If Intel can extend the momentum there by allocating more die space to graphics as well as improving its graphics architecture, then that could help the company drive sell-up to processors with greater graphics capabilities, helping the company's chip average selling prices.

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Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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