Inside Iris: What Intel's new integrated graphics mean for Apple's future Macs

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 2014
Intel's next generation of CPUs will include powerful integrated graphics processors branded as "Iris" ? a change that could help lead to even thinner and more powerful MacBook Pros with longer battery life.

MacBook Pro


The fact that Intel has chosen to give its graphics processors a less generic name this year, beginning with the new Haswell series of chips, could indicate the company wants their mobile processors to be taken more seriously. Much like Nvidia's GeForce brand and AMD's Radeon brands represent those company's respective graphics technologies, Intel is now using the name Iris to pitch what it believes is a premium-level GPU.

While Intel's integrated graphics have been gradually improving over the years, most serious users still see reliance on integrated graphics processing as a negative. Take, for example, last year's MacBook Pro with Retina display models.

Apple started off with a 15-inch model that had its high-resolution display driven by a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics card. But that same power couldn't be crammed into the 13-inch model, which debuted later in 2012 featuring only integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000.

That's why Intel Iris is likely to be particularly meaningful for Apple's anticipated 2013 update to its 13-inch MacBook Pro. AppleInsider noted in its review of the 13-inch Retina model last year that one of the most disappointing aspects of the notebook was the lack of discrete graphics, forcing users to rely solely on Intel's integrated graphics.

Iris


But with Iris, Intel has now signaled its next generation of processors will offer integrated graphics that can more directly compete with the likes of discrete hardware from Nvidia and AMD. As noted by AnandTech last month, Intel plans for its high-end Iris graphics option in Haswell to compete with Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M ? the same discrete GPU currently found in Apple's 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

Further solidifying the premium nature of Iris is the fact that the brand will only apply to Intel's most powerful graphics solutions. The company's low-end graphics processors will retain the generic "Intel HD Graphics" branding.

But the high-end 28-watt GT3 graphics level will be known as Intel Iris Graphics 5100, while the top-of-the-line GT3e will be identified as Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200.

Iris


Iris Pro, in particular, will include 128 megabytes of eDRAM, helping enable it to offer more than twice the performance of the previous generation Intel HD 4000 graphics. Intel's premier GPU will be restricted to quad-core processors, which currently come by default inside Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pros.

Iris graphics will also likely be another way for Apple to differentiate its MacBook Pro notebooks from the thinner, lighter and less powerful MacBook Air models. Intel's new Ultrabook-class Haswell chips, which typically power the MacBook Air, will not offer Iris-class graphics. Instead, they will feature the less powerful Intel HD Graphics 5000.

Even still, Intel's own tests show that the new Intel HD Graphics 5000 will offer a 50 percent improvement in performance over the 4000-class graphics found in last year's Sandy Bridge processors, suggesting the Haswell upgrade will be meaningful for Apple's next MacBook Air models.

And in a win for all users of Intel-based notebooks, Iris comes coupled with the power-saving enhancements made to the next-generation Haswell CPUs. That means it's likely fewer users will require discrete graphics in their notebooks, allowing battery life on portable PCs, such as Apple's MacBooks, to further increase.

Apple is expected to introduce Haswell-powered MacBook models at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. According to well-connected insider Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, Apple is likely to begin shipping new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with Intel Haswell processors before the end of the June quarter.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    It means it's better than previous generation. Duh.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,213moderator
    The fact that Intel has chosen to give its graphics processors a less generic name this year, beginning with the new Haswell series of chips, could indicate the company wants their mobile processors to be taken more seriously. Much like Nvidia's GeForce brand and AMD's Radeon brands represent those company's respective graphics technologies, Intel is now using the name Iris to pitch what it believes is a premium-level GPU.

    I think they could have picked a more masculine name though. This is just setting things up for NVidia. Iris is a girl's name (and a flower). GeForce / Radeon / Titan / FirePro are slightly more symbolic of raw unadulterated power. I just hope Intel's roadmap doesn't have Daisy and Dandelion in it. Their GT3 name gives a better impression of the performance.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I don't care what's integrated vs. separate, or even about specs and benchmarks... just show me real world frames-per-second tests in actual apps. If sufficient speed is there, I'll be happy no matter what logo is on the chip.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    @drblank : some iterations of Intel hardware haven't exactly been doing that, imho.
  • Reply 5 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post





    I think they could have picked a more masculine name though. This is just setting things up for NVidia. Iris is a girl's name (and a flower). GeForce / Radeon / Titan / FirePro are slightly more symbolic of raw unadulterated power. I just hope Intel's roadmap doesn't have Daisy and Dandelion in it. Their GT3 name gives a better impression of the performance.


    Iris<>Siri?

  • Reply 6 of 49
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    nagromme wrote: »
    I don't care what's integrated vs. separate, or even about specs and benchmarks... just show me real world frames-per-second tests in actual apps. If sufficient speed is there, I'll be happy no matter what logo is on the chip.

    Why? Frames per second is only relevant for games and a few very heavy duty apps. People using those apps are probably going to use the MBP with discrete graphics, anyway.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post





    I think they could have picked a more masculine name though. This is just setting things up for NVidia. Iris is a girl's name (and a flower). GeForce / Radeon / Titan / FirePro are slightly more symbolic of raw unadulterated power. I just hope Intel's roadmap doesn't have Daisy and Dandelion in it. Their GT3 name gives a better impression of the performance.


     


    If you pronounce it the old fashioned way ("EER-is"), it sounds way more exotic.  That might help.  


     


    I'm not sure why it has to have a "masculine" name though, I always thought those graphic card names like Force/Power/Titan/Fire etc. were kind of dumb myself.  YMMV

  • Reply 8 of 49
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    jragosta wrote: »
    Why? Frames per second is only relevant for games and a few very heavy duty apps. People using those apps are probably going to use the MBP with discrete graphics, anyway.

    Maybe all he cares about is games? That's reasonable.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    lun_esexlun_esex Posts: 27member


    What I really want to know is:


     


    How will this improve graphics performance on the 13" Retina MacBook Pro?


     


    The 15" Retina MacBook Pro will surely still come with a discrete GPU. The MacBook Airs, per the article "will not offer Iris-class graphics." So the biggest impact from this should come to the 13" Retina MacBook Pro, which currently kind of struggles with only integrated graphics.

  • Reply 10 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,167member
    Marvin wrote: »
    I think they could have picked a more masculine name though. This is just setting things up for NVidia. Iris is a girl's name (and a flower). GeForce / Radeon / Titan / FirePro are slightly more symbolic of raw unadulterated power. I just hope Intel's roadmap doesn't have Daisy and Dandelion in it. Their GT3 name gives a better impression of the performance.

    Probably derived from the iris of the eye. It is also a famous name in the world of color printing. Seems pretty relevant to me assuming no trademark issues.
  • Reply 11 of 49
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ColorClassic View Post


    Iris<>Siri?



     


    Iris and Siri sittin in a tree ... 

  • Reply 12 of 49
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    I hate to use Tim Cook level words though this is both incredible and remarkable. I am super excited for the future specifically the month of June.
  • Reply 13 of 49
    applepiapplepi Posts: 365member


    Power is not stictly male and submission is not strictly female.  

  • Reply 14 of 49
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,755member
    I love the current graphics on retina MacBook Pro, powering that large of a retina is hard to get!
  • Reply 15 of 49
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,718member


    Nice of Intel to finally pull their collective heads out of their collective arses and make an IGP that doesn't completely suck.  Took 'em long enough...

  • Reply 16 of 49
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 17 of 49
    The iris is behind the retina.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,167member
    The iris is behind the retina.

    I think your eye is inside out!
  • Reply 19 of 49
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,353member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    I think your eye is inside out!


    Or back to front.

  • Reply 20 of 49
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    I think your eye is inside out!


     


    I see what he did there.

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