Broadwell Processor

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.

Understanding Broadwell Processor

What is 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:

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:

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 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.

Release Dates

Different types of Intel Broadwell processors were released at different dates. For example:

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Codename Variants

There are three major variants in which the Broadwell processors are launched. These are:

Apart from these three major variants, the Intel Broadwell processors are also available in some other variants. Here is the list of them:

Socket Types:

Different types of Intel Broadwell processors come with different types of sockets. For example:

Instruction Set Extensions

The Intel Broadwell processors come with some specific Instruction Set Architecture or ISA extensions such as:

New Features

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:

However, the processor is advertised as Direct3D-12-ready. And, the Broadwell-E variant supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.

Process Technology

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:

Architectural Changes

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:

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However, the features of the cores retained the same 2:1 performance to power ratio.

As for the graphics, the notable changes are:

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:

Die Stats

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:

The die stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with dual core and Iris Pro are:

The die stats of the Intel Broadwell processors with four cores and with Iris Pro are:

The die stats of the Deca-core Intel Broadwell processors are:

Snoop Mode

The Broadwell-EP processors in particular come with four different types of snoop modes such as:

Broadwell Generation

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:

Here is the list of the four desktop Intel Broadwell-E high-end desktop or HEDT processors:

Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell Embedded processors:

Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell mobile processors:

Here is the list of the Intel Broadwell server processors:

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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.

Advantages

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:

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.

Disadvantages

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.

Conclusion

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.