For those of you dreading the move to the BGA socket with the Broadwell platform, it’s coming earlier than expected for the desktop market, with Intel trialing three processors for the socket from the Haswell family. The new chip packages will have the “R” designation at the end and will feature Intel’s HD5200 graphics core, possibly the one we’ve been calling “GT3” for some time now.
All the R-series processors have to fit under a 65W TDP so they’re underclocked and a little under-specced. While they’ll feature the same core and thread count as their larger siblings, clock speeds will be down by as much as 500MHz and with 2MB of L3 cache chopped off for good measure. The GT3 graphics core should make up for that, but since this is the BGA packaging I don’t expect to see any third-party vendors like MSI, Gigabyte or even ASUS offer the R-series. I think it’s far more likely that Intel will use it’s board channel to get the nuances with BGA out of the way internally so it knows how to deal with external vendors once the in-house board manufacturing gets shut down.
Would the slower speeds, smaller cache and restrictive packaging lower the price? This is Intel and they’ve charged early adopters more than necessary before. We’ll probably see the R-series in the next refresh of the tiny NUC computers Intel also sells. To date no-one knows quite how the GT3 graphics will perform. Tom’s Hardware showed that the HD4600 GPU is quite an improvement over HD4000, but it’s probably only going to be about 10-15% quicker in games once the drivers are sorted. GT3 could be at least as fast as AMD’s Radeon HD7660D found in the A10-5800K, but I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near as cheap to buy.
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