Intel Iris: More Pixels, Double 3-D Speed

Apple fulfilled a vision with Retina. Now Intel hopes to catch the gamer's eye with Iris, its next-gen video GPU to accompany Haswell, the company's fourth-generation Core processors. Unveiled in a blog post on Thursday, Iris will super-charge resolutions and double the 3-D performance now delivered by Intel HD Graphics, according to the post.

Iris is designed "to support the demand for more stunning visuals in thinner and lighter computing devices," wrote Intel technical PR manager Dan Snyder. When compared with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Iris technology will turn in a 17x improvement in video conversion rate and 25x faster graphics performance for PC gaming, and yet be half the thickness and half the weight of the older part.

Beyond Ultrabooks, the technology later also will find its way into traditional laptops as well as all-in-one PCs and other machines designed with Haswell processors and chipsets. When compared with today's third-gen Intel Core processors, Haswell with Iris will double the performance of U-series (Ultrabook) and H-series (other notebook) processors and triple the performance of R-series desktop CPUs with high-speed memory.

The technology will be of particular interest to digital designers, artists and production staff, who also will enjoy tremendous performance improvements in advanced video and photo-editing applications and support for "4k UltraHD" 4,096-x-2,160 displays and with high-frame rates adequate for gaming without the need for a discrete graphics card. Snyder pointed out that Intel HD Graphics still "provides a power-optimized experience even when a discrete graphics solution from another vendor is used through switchable graphics technology."

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Moving forward, Intel's baseline graphics processors will be known as Intel HD Graphics 5000, and the more high-powered Iris line will be called Iris Graphics 5100 and Iris Pro Graphics 5200.