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What is Broadwell Processor?
Broadwell refers to the codename of the microarchitecture of the 5th generation Intel core processors. The successor of Haswell microarchitecture is built on a 14 nm die following a ‘tick’ in the tick-tock principle of Intel and is named after Broadwell, Illinois.
- The 14 nm fabrication process of the Intel Broadwell processor allows it to be used in different form factors such as laptops, ultrabooks, All In One computers, touch-enabled computers, mini computers, 2-in-1s and Internet of Things.
- These particular processors come in different variants such as Broadwell Y, U, H, E, EX, EP and Broadwell DT.
- Different types of Broadwell processors come with different types of sockets and particular types of Instruction Set Architecture.
- The useful features of these processors include Intel Quick Sync Video, VP9 and HEVC 10-bit decoding support, and Bit Stream Decoder rings.
- The integrated GPU in the Intel Broadwell processors supports OpenGL 4.4, OpenCL 2.0 and Direct3D 11.2 standards on Windows.
Understanding Broadwell Processor
The Intel Broadwell microarchitecture is built on the 14 nm manufacturing process so that it can be used in desktop computers, mobile devices as well as in the servers.
The first variant of it was introduced in late 2014 and is named after Broadwell, Illinois by Intel in keeping with their habit of naming their CPU based on geographical locations.
It comes with several enhanced features in comparison to its predecessor Haswell.
As for desktop and mobile usage, Intel branded these processors as 5th generation Intel Core processors.
On the other hand, for the server class CPUs, Intel branded them as:
- Xeon E3 v4
- Xeon E5 v4 and
- Xeon E7 v4.
The Broadwell microarchitecture is supposed to be the one that brought in the Core M CPU branding and the last Intel platform supported by either Microsoft or Intel for Windows 7 operating system.
The Intel Broadwell-H variant processors are used in combination with the Intel chipsets of belonging to the 9-series such as:
- H97 and
In addition to that, it has also retained backward compatibility with a number of Intel 8 Series chipsets.
The Intel Broadwell processors are particularly targeted for a wide range of form factor such as:
- The notebooks
- The ultrabooks
- Touch-enabled computers
- The all-in-one computers
- The 2-in-1s
- The mini-computers such as the Next Unit of Computing or NUC machines of Intel and
- The IoTs or Internet of Things.
The 14 nm manufacturing process promises a higher performance irrespective of the devices these processors are used in.
Roadmap and History
The Intel Broadwell 14 nm processor was showcased for the first time in an IDF demonstration way back on September 10, 2013.
The then Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that this particular processor is designed to up the performance by as much as 30% in comparison to its predecessor Haswell.
However, the 14 nm process could not deliver at the desired level and the launch of the Intel Broadwell processors was delayed.
It was then slated in late 2014 and early 2015, which, interestingly, coincided with the launch of the 9-series chipsets of Intel.
This is because these chipsets are necessary for the Intel Broadwell CPUs due to the change in the power specifications for using the LGA 1150 socket.
Different variants of the Intel Broadwell processors were released then after and it was particularly meant for the laptops, All-in-One systems and the miniature desktop computers mainly.
This meant that the traditional desktop users who were looking for a CPU from a later generation and with a new type of socket were left with nothing new but the previous 4th generation Haswell processors that were launched in 2013.
However, two Broadwell desktop chips were finally launched by Intel in the summer of 2015 but also introduced their high-end 6th generation Skylake processors in a very short time thereafter.
Different types of Intel Broadwell processors were released at different dates. For example:
- The first three Intel Broadwell processors belonging to the low-TDP Core M family namely the Core M 5Y10, Core M 5Y10a and the Core M 5Y70 were released on September 5, 2014
- The first laptop computer with an Intel Broadwell Core M 5Y70 processor was launched on October 9, 2014
- Further four Intel Broadwell processors belonging to the Core M family was released on October 31, 2014 taking the total number of such processors to seven
- Further 17 Intel Broadwell processors for laptops were released on January 5, 2015 belonging to the Pentium, Celeron, Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 series
- The 14 nm Intel Broadwell-EP Xeon E5 V4 processors were officially launched on March 31, 2016 and
- The Intel Broadwell-E Core i7 69xx/68xx processor family was officially launched on May 30, 2016.
There are three major variants in which the Broadwell processors are launched. These are:
- Intel Broadwell Y – Commonly referred to as BDW-Y, this System on a Chip or SoC comes with two Thermal Design power or TDP classes such as 4.5 watts and 3.5 watts and is typically targeted for a few specific types of ultrabooks and tablets. It comes with a GT2 GPU that supports up to 8 GB of LPDDR3 1600 MHz memory and disabled TSX instructions.
- Intel Broadwell U – Commonly referred to as BDW-U, this SoC also comes with two TDP classes of 15 watts for 2+2 and 2+3 configurations and 28 watts for 2+3 configurations. It can be used on PCH-LP chipsets for Intel ultrabooks and the Next Unit of Computing platforms. It can support up to 16 GB of a DDR3 1600 MHz or an LPDDR3 1867 MHz memory.
- Intel Broadwell H – Commonly known as BDW-H, this processor also comes with two different TDP classes of 37 watts and 47 watts. It can be used in motherboards with HM86, HM87, QM87, and the new HM97 chipsets. It can be used in the mini-ITX form-factor motherboards, All-in-One systems, and other formats with smaller footprints. It supports a DDR3 1600 MHz memory of up to 32 GB.
Apart from these three major variants, the Intel Broadwell processors are also available in some other variants. Here is the list of them:
- Intel Broadwell DT, which is commonly referred to as BDW-DT
- Intel Broadwell EP, which is commonly referred to as BDW-EP
- Intel Broadwell EX, which is commonly referred to as BDW-EX and
- Intel Broadwell E, which is commonly referred to as BDW-E.
Different types of Intel Broadwell processors come with different types of sockets. For example:
- The Intel Broadwell-DT quad-core unlocked desktop version usually comes with a backward compatible LGA 1150 socket
- The Intel Broadwell-EX variant for mission-critical servers usually comes with LGA 2011-1 socket
- The Intel Broadwell-EP versions which are marketed as marketed as Xeon E5-2600 v4 usually come with an LGA 2011-v3 socket and
- The Intel Broadwell-E HEDT platform for enthusiasts usually comes with an LGA 2011-v3 socket as well.
Instruction Set Extensions
The Intel Broadwell processors come with some specific Instruction Set Architecture or ISA extensions such as:
- Intel ADX or Multi-Precision Add-Carry Instruction Extensions, which is known to improve the performance of the arbitrary precision integer operations especially by the ADOX and ADCX
- RDSEED, which generates 16-bit, 32-bit, or 64-bit random numbers according to NIST SP 800-90B and 800-90C from the thermal noise entropy stream
- PREFETCHW instruction
- Supervisor Mode Access Prevention pr SMAP, which makes exploiting the software bugs quite difficult by optionally disallowing access to the user space memory from the kernel space memory and
- Transactional Synchronization Extensions or TSX, which is available in all Broadwell variants apart from Broadwell-Y.
There are some new features added to the Intel Broadwell processors such as:
Intel Quick Sync Video, which is a hardware video decoder that allows VP8 hardware encoding and decoding.
It also allows VP9 and HEVC 10-bit decoding support via the Graphics Processing Unit integrated into the processor.
HEVC or High Efficiency Video Coding decode is accomplished through an amalgamation of the preset function of the shaders and video decoder.
There are also two separate Bit Stream Decoder or BSD rings that can process video instructions on GT3 GPUs. One of these BSD rings processes the encoding and the other processes decoding at the same time.
And, the GPU integrated into the Intel Broadwell processors supports different standards on Windows such as:
- OpenGL 4.4
- OpenCL 2.0 and
- Direct3D 11.2.
However, the processor is advertised as Direct3D-12-ready. And, the Broadwell-E variant supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.
As said earlier, the Intel Broadwell processors are designed on the 14 nm manufacturing process with Tri-gate FinFET transistors.
The specifications of it are as follows:
- Fin Pitch – 42 nm
- Fin Width – 8 nm
- Fin Height – 42 nm
- Gate Pitch – 70 nm
- Interconnect Pitch – 52 nm and
- Cell Height – 399 nm.
The Broadwell processors come with a few changes and enhancements in the architecture as compared with its predecessor Haswell. Here are some of the key changes:
- About 5% improvements in IPC
- Reduced latency of 3 cycles from 5 cycles in FP multiplication instructions which affects FP, AVX and SSE instructions
- Improved throughput and latency due to the single µOP CLMUL instructions
- The SLTB or Second-level Translation Lookaside Buffer with enlarged table of 1,536 entries from 1024 entries and 1 GB page mode and
- An execution engine with larger scheduler of 64 instead of 60 entries, larger instruction queue of 25 entries/thread instead of 20, and faster store-to-load forwarding, and an improved address prediction for branches and returns and cryptography acceleration instructions.
However, the features of the cores retained the same 2:1 performance to power ratio.
As for the graphics, the notable changes are:
- 50% higher sampler output
- Increased geometry, Pixel Fill and Z and
- Up to 24 Execution Units and 48 on Iris Pro Graphics.
And, though the numbers may vary depending on the specific model of the Intel Broadwell processors, there is also a significant change in core count and others noticed in it in comparison to the Haswell microarchitecture. These are:
- Up to 24 cores instead of 18
- Up to 48 threads instead of 36
- Up to 2400MHz DDR instead of 2133 MHz and
- Up to 60 MB LLC instead of 45 MB.
Here are the differences in die size and other stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with respect to the number of cores.
The die stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with dual core are:
- 82 mm² die size
- 1,300,000,000 transistors and
- 13 metal layers.
The die stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with dual core and Iris Pro are:
- 133 mm2 die size
- 1,900,000,000 transistors and
- 13 metal layers.
The die stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with four cores and with Iris Pro are:
- 182 mm2 die size and
- 13 metal layers.
The die stats of the Deca-core Intel Broadwell processors are:
- 246 mm2 die size and
- 3,400,000,000 transistors.
The Broadwell-EP processors in particular come with four different types of snoop modes such as:
- Early Snoop or ES
- Home Snoop or HS
- Cluster-on-Die or COD and
- Home Snoop with Directory and Opportunistic Snoop Broadcast or HS with DIR + OSB.
The Intel Broadwell processors belong to the 5th generation of the Intel Core processor family.
Built on a 14 nm manufacturing process, this successor of the Haswell microarchitecture is a ‘tick’ on the tick-tock principle of Intel as one of their ensuing steps in semiconductor production.
Here is the list of the two low-end desktop Intel Broadwell processors:
- Intel Core i7 5775C and
- Intel Core i5 5675C.
Here is the list of the four desktop Intel Broadwell-E high-end desktop or HEDT processors:
- Intel Core i7 6950X
- Intel Core i7 6900K
- Intel Core i7 6850K and
- Intel Core i7 6800K.
Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell Embedded processors:
- Intel Core i7 5775R
- Intel Core i5 5675R
- Intel Core i5 5575R
- Intel Xeon E3 1284Lv4
- Intel Xeon E3 1278Lv4 and
- Intel Xeon E3 1258Lv4.
Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell mobile processors:
- Intel core i7 5950HQ
- Intel core i75850HQ
- Intel core i75750HQ
- Intel core i75700HQ
- Intel core i7 5650U
- Intel core i7 5600U
- Intel core i7 5557U
- Intel core i7 5550U
- Intel core i7 5500U
- Intel core i5 5350H
- Intel core i5 5350U
- Intel core i5 5300U
- Intel core i5 5287U
- Intel core i5 5257U
- Intel core i5 5250U
- Intel core i5 5200U
- Intel core i3 5157U
- Intel core i3 5020U
- Intel core i3 5015U
- Intel core i3 5010U
- Intel core i3 5005U
- Intel Pentium 3825U
- Intel Pentium 3805U
- Intel Celeron 3755U
- Intel Celeron 3205U
- Intel Core M (vPro) 5Y71
- Intel Core M (vPro) 5Y70
- Intel Core M 5Y51
- Intel Core M 5Y31
- Intel Core M 5Y10c
- Intel Core M 5Y10a and
- Intel Core M 5Y10.
Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell server processors:
- Intel Xeon D 1587
- Intel Xeon D 1577
- Intel Xeon D 1571
- Intel Xeon D 1559
- Intel Xeon D 1557
- Intel Xeon D 1553N
- Intel Xeon D 1548
- Intel Xeon D 1543N
- Intel Xeon D 1541
- Intel Xeon D 1540
- Intel Xeon D 1539
- Intel Xeon D 1537
- Intel Xeon D 1533N
- Intel Xeon D 1531
- Intel Xeon D 1529
- Intel Xeon D 1528
- Intel Xeon D 1527
- Intel Xeon D 1523N
- Intel Xeon D 1521
- Intel Xeon D 1520
- Intel Xeon D 1518
- Intel Xeon D 1513N
- Intel Pentium D 1519
- Intel Pentium D 1517
- Intel Pentium D 1509
- Intel Pentium D 1508
- Intel Pentium D 1507
- Intel Xeon E3 v4 1285v4
- Intel Xeon E3 v4 1285Lv4
- Intel Xeon E3 v4 1265Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2699Av4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2699v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2697v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2697Av4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2695v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2690v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2689v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2687Wv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2683v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2680v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2667v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2660v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2658v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2650v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2650Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2648Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2643v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2640v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2637v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2630v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2630Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2628Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2623v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2620v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2618Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2609v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2608Lv4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 2603v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 1680v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 1660v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 1650v4
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 1630v4 and
- Intel Xeon E5 v4 1620v4.
How Does it Work?
The increased IPC or Instructions per Clock is the result of the architectural tweaks made in the Broadwell processor which helps in its working process.
The larger buffers and schedulers themselves provide the necessary feed to processor cores.
The out-of-order scheduling window reorders the instructions for every cycle and the L2 Translation Lookaside Buffer or TLB reduces misses in address translation.
The second miss handler included in TLB pages handles the memory pages in parallel.
It is the properly synchronized working process of the Broadwell processors that offers it the ability to pay off the servers well in particular.
The most significant advantage offered by the Broadwell processors is a powerful performance.
The new 14 nm manufacturing technology of this 5th generation Intel processor comes with 35% more transistors as compared to the previous generations on a die that is 37% smaller in size.
The graphics performance offered by the Broadwell processor is also 24% better in comparison to the earlier versions due to the architectural enhancements made in it.
It also allows 50% quicker video conversion and a longer battery life by up to 1.5 hours.
This processor is especially beneficial for the users who have a computer that is 4/5 years old.
They will see a significant improvement in the performance level when they use the Broadwell processors in the form of:
- Up to 12 times better graphics performance
- Up to 8 times faster video conversion
- Up to 2.5 times faster productivity performance
- Up to 9 times faster wake times and
- Up to double the battery life.
The processor is quite efficient to be used in the Internet of Things particularly in retail, medical, manufacturing and other similar vertical segments.
It can be used even in the next generation of IoT solutions in spite of their much reduced thermal envelope.
The enhanced security features, compatibility, and capability of this processor powers end-to-end IoT solutions, thereby helping them to offer business insights and customer benefits.
In short, the advanced design and technology of the Broadwell processors will offer a more natural, seamless, interactive and immersive user experience.
In spite of a reasonable incremental upgrading in its design, the Intel Broadwell processor fails to offer the added performance benefits expected in comparison to its predecessor with respect to its outlay.
This does not make it worthy enough.
Therefore, this CPU is not capable enough to raise the interest of the users who are looking for a much better performance in comparison to the previous generations.
Add to that, it is the lower yield and power efficiency of the CPU that is also a bit of a concern.
Also, the 14 nm manufacturing process as it is comes with its own ‘defect density issue.’ This further lowers the yield.
Though Intel tried to fix this issue but could not succeed in improving the yield to the level as expected.
Add to that, perhaps one of the most significant problems with the Broadwell processors is that it does not have too many variants to offer and the changes made in it are also not of much significance with comparison to the previous generations.
This does not make it a huge seller which is why Intel quite quickly moved onto the Skylake version.
Availability of these processors is also another issue because some of these CPUs are already discontinued by Intel.
Of course there are some variants that are readily available but most of them are mainly secondhand.
There is also not much support available within the community.
So, you may have a hard time if something goes wrong in this specific model, which, initially, is tough to get.
Also, the users typically cannot get this processor in lower-priced variants, which is another reason for its short of popularity.
Still, in spite of the downsides, the merits of the Intel Broadwell processor seem to outweigh them.
However, make sure that you check for its availability beforehand because a few of the variants are discontinued by Intel.
So, that is all about the Intel Broadwell processor.
This article has surely helped you in enhancing your knowledge about this particular processor to make out whether or not you should choose a particular variant of it in your computer to get a higher and better performance than a Haswell processor.