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My thoughts on Devil's Canyon

Posted on 14th Jul 2014 at 09:17 by Antony Leather with 19 comments

I think it's fair to say that Intel's latest CPUs have been met with a mixture of emotions by enthusiasts. At the crux of the issue is likely the fact that Intel is likely looking at markets away from the PC as tablets and smartphones take a big old slice of PC sales pie, despite the fact that PC sales have been predicted to and now seem to be stabilising.

That's not to say it's pulling out of the PC market - far from it. However, we haven't seen the kind of performance increases in new architectures or refreshes/ticks that we have done in the past. Even after AMD was placed firmly in catchup mode following the release of the first Core architecture, we still saw significant improvements in performance, for example, in the move from LGA775’s Penryn and Wolfdale to Clarkdale and again from Clarkdale/Lynnfield/Nehalem to Sandy Bridge.

My thoughts on Devil's Canyon My thoughts on Intel's new CPUs
Click to enlarge

There was a huge leap in performance going from a dual core Core 2 CPU to the dual core Core i5-530, which even gave previous generation quad cores such as the Q6600 a run for their money. Only in specific tests do we see anywhere near this level of performance increase in the post-Sandy Bridge era, and even then, the argument for upgrading, even including the LGA1155 to LGA1150 socket change, is only strong if you own a Sandy Bridge system: Ivy Bridge and Haswell owners needn't bother, although the additional features provided by the Z97 chipset may well temp you too.

However, there's another very good reason for upgrading to Devil's Canyon. Overclocking. It seems that as well as providing smoother power delivery and a better thermal interface material (I should add that people are still delidding these CPUs and seeing better cooling though), Intel has been speed-binning CPUs.

My thoughts on Devil's Canyon My thoughts on Intel's new CPUs
Click to enlarge

In short, the widely varying overclocks we saw with Ivy Bridge and Haswell, which ranged from 4.3GHz to 5GHz, appear to be a thing of the past and the vast majority of new CPUs, the Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition included, can reach 4.8GHz with relative ease. It's always been a lottery with CPUs and overclocking and retailers have often cherry picked CPUs too and sold them at higher prices for guaranteed overclocks. You'd need a good CPU cooler, and for some reason, 4.8GHz appear to be the limit unless you drastically boost the CPU voltage, but even so, this is 300-400MHz faster than you'd expect from a typical Core i5-4670K retail sample.

My thoughts on Devil's Canyon My thoughts on Intel's new CPUs
Click to enlarge

To prove our point, as Intel annoyingly didn't ship out a Core i5-4690K to us, we bought our own retail copy and this performed exactly the same as our Core i7-4790K press sample. You only have to look at forum system spec signatures to see just how many people are having to be content with a 4.3GHz or 4.4GHz CPU. In addition, our 4.8GHz test system only drew 20W more at load and the CPU was much cooler than a 4.6GHz Core i5-4670K-based system, so it's quite feasible to have your CPU at 4.7GHz or 4.8GHz 24/7.

This on its own is a very appealing feature - after all, who wouldn't want a speed-binned CPU and in the past, retailers have even charged more for such sought-after silicon (remember G0-stepping Q6600's?) Yet Devil's Canyon CPUs didn't cost much more, if at all than their predecessors. Yes there’s not much if any improvement in IPC and most of the speed boosts at stock speed are due to increased CPU frequencies – the Core i7-4790K for example has a stock speed of 4GHz, which is a substancial 500MHz faster than its predecessor, but that’s the kind of thing you can do with a cherry-picked CPU.

There is, of course, the argument that Intel has shunned the PC and the PC enthusiast by just speed-binning Haswell cores, but if anything, this is showing that it still has a commitment to enthusiasts and in particular overclockers.

Yes I’d like to have seen more of a performance boost or shrunken manufacturing process, although the latter is what we'll be looking at with Broadwell, but I’d rather have a Devil’s Canyon CPU that’s guaranteed to hit 4.8GHz and provide some overclocking fun, than something that performs a few percent faster clock for clock than the previous round of LGA1150 CPUs and once again runs very hot under the collar once you’ve overclocked it along with being lucky to be able to get a stable overclock above 4.4GHz.

My thoughts on Devil's Canyon My thoughts on Intel's new CPUs
Click to enlarge

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea of course, but I’m willing to bet that most people reading this, especially those that are potential buyers of the new Core i5 and Core i7, would be overclocking their CPUs too. It probably cost Intel less to tweak the power delivery, use better thermal interface material and speed-bin some CPUs, than it would have done to make similar changes to what we saw moving from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge, but I’m not really that bothered.

However, I do want to see some improvements with Broadwell. With Windows 9 due out at roughly the same time (although rumours are that K-series Broadwell CPUs may have been delayed yet again till next summer) and rumoured to be much more geared toward PC users, they could provide the perfect opportunity for pre-Haswell owners to reach for their wallets.

19 Comments

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Hustler 14th July 2014, 09:36 Quote
From what I'm seeing of other peoples experience with the 4690, 4.6Ghz with 1.2 or 1.25vlts seems to be the sweet spot and not need any kind of water cooling.

If it can do 4.6 with 1.2 like mine, then it's almost guaranteed, with enough volts to do 4.8 if you have cooling that's up to the job under medium to heavy load...which I don't. (£25 tower cooler).

Didn't have a 4670, so I'm guessing being able to run 4.6Ghz with only 1.2vlts and a cheap tower cooler was pretty much beyond reach?
maverik-sg1 14th July 2014, 09:44 Quote
I've just sped through these thoughts of yours, the impression of which is immediately unclear to me.

Are you saying that devils canyon cpu's are potentially better for overclockers because (due to binning, TIM, power distribution) they're more likely to hit 4.8ghz than the previous haswells?
Dave Lister 14th July 2014, 10:06 Quote
I just got a 4790k on Saturday and on Amazon at least there is a price difference between it and the 4770k, I can't remember off hand but I think it was about £30-40 difference. I am going to wait until next weekend to try an overclock, but after reading the reviews i'm not expecting much.
Spreadie 14th July 2014, 12:05 Quote
I don't know what you're seeing that I'm not, Antony. As far as I can see, there is no compelling reason to upgrade from SB.

Other than very good gains on power consumption, according to your own benchmark suite, it offers a 10% improvement over a 2500K. Bearing in mind the default clocks are 200MHz (6%) greater than a 2500K , the 4690K looks even less convincing. Even coupled with a middling Z series board, you're looking at £250+ for ~5% gain at stock speed and, at first glance, even less when overclocking.

Bearing in mind resale of my old kit would net around half the outlay, £125 is still too much for the improvement on offer.

If the rumours about Broadwell's further delay are true, I'm happy to wait another year at least. Even then, it'll have to be pretty bloody special to turn my head.
SchizoFrog 14th July 2014, 12:25 Quote
I just think it is funny that people get so disappointed or even angry that they don't NEED to upgrade their computers every year or two. Be happy that the machine you invested in so long ago is still kicking arse and that you can spend that money elsewhere. I doubt anyone with hardware released in the last 5 years is really saying 'I wish I could play (insert chosen game here) but my system is too weak and I need to upgrade again'.
Spreadie 14th July 2014, 12:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I just think it is funny that people get so disappointed or even angry that they don't NEED to upgrade their computers every year or two.
Wait, what?

Commenting on an opinion piece with contrary arguments, doesn't mean I'm angry or disappointed. It means I'm commenting on an opinion piece with contrary arguments.
t5kcannon 14th July 2014, 14:25 Quote
Good article, with which I find myself in general agreement. There is also perhaps a point about competition. We, the consumers, tend to benefit from competition. Intel's more recent cpus have tended to on average outpace AMD's cpus. Intel may offer more if AMD turned the competitive screw more effectively.
SchizoFrog 14th July 2014, 14:27 Quote
Then I wasn't specifically talking about you then was I Spreadie? You even mention that you are willing to wait to upgrade from a 2500K, but this article has been written on the back of dozens of reviews over recent years and if you read the comments of said reviews, my comment seems appropriate.
Spreadie 14th July 2014, 14:54 Quote
Oooh, did I hit a nerve?
maverik-sg1 14th July 2014, 15:00 Quote
So are Devil's Canyon CPU's in retail format generally considered to be more likely to clock to 4,8ghz without burning my house down if cooled with a AIO water cooler like the H100i?
Yadda 14th July 2014, 15:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I just think it is funny that people get so disappointed or even angry that they don't NEED to upgrade their computers every year or two. Be happy that the machine you invested in so long ago is still kicking arse and that you can spend that money elsewhere...

I agree. Glass half full.
SchizoFrog 14th July 2014, 15:46 Quote
Not at all Spreadie. Just pointing out in clear fashion that your defense of your own comment was misconstrued and not needed.
Maki role 14th July 2014, 15:51 Quote
What confuses me a little is how people keep talking about CPU improvements and why they don't seem to be large anymore. Sure the net improvements don't appear to be anything special, but you have to stop and think why.

First up is competition, simply put at the high end Intel have the world to themselves. This point gets brought up over and over so I won't talk about it.

How about software though? For there to be improvements, surely there has to be something to improve, right? We outstripped the need for better CPUs with out current software needs for the majority of users, simply put. Standard productivity stuff like word, excel, internet browsing and email doesn't benefit at all from current CPU crops (and certainly not enthusiast stuff) so let's ignore that. Next up are games, which still don't use CPUs up much. In fact, the trend is to remove even more need for CPU grunt by offloading to the GPU, as seen with the likes of Mantle etc.

Intel could (theoretically) release a chip that's twice as powerful and the same price, but most people simply wouldn't benefit from it. Sure there are some CPU bound games out there, but the number's not huge. Performance simply doesn't scale properly with core counts in most applications.

If you want to see some improvements, some developer's going to have to release a game that scales really well with more cores but at the same time plays terribly with only 2 or so. So it'll have to play really well with 4+ but not well on anything lower. That kind of precedent would help kick the market in the backside. Sadly it's also a risky strategy that may well not pay off, depends how revolutionary and important the feature is deemed to be.
SchizoFrog 14th July 2014, 17:07 Quote
Maki role: That opinion is far to sensible and logical and removes all the valuable reasons to finger point and complain. :)

On the same line of logic I find it quite interesting just where smartphones are going to go over the next 5 years to continue to get sales as the hardware is already pretty much surplus to requirements. At the rate it is going we'll be able to play full PC games at 4K resolutions on a 5" screen very shortly.
Maki role 14th July 2014, 17:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Maki role: That opinion is far to sensible and logical and removes all the valuable reasons to finger point and complain. :)

On the same line of logic I find it quite interesting just where smartphones are going to go over the next 5 years to continue to get sales as the hardware is already pretty much surplus to requirements. At the rate it is going we'll be able to play full PC games at 4K resolutions on a 5" screen very shortly.

Funny that, I literally made a post 20 minutes ago over on LTT about that exact point. People were bashing some new iPhone leak over how it supposedly has a lower resolution screen than some Samsung or other. Pointless, once you hit 300+ PPI things just become meaningless unless you genuinely hold your phone 2" away from your face at all times. I use my phone as an e-reader, having that resolution change was great a few years back, made text much easier to read. However, going from 326 (or whatever an iPhone is) to something like 400/450 doesn't yield the same effect. Because the pixels are so damn small to begin with, you can hardly notice a thing. It's like comparing having a 144Hz screen and then going to 196Hz, big change in numbers, but it's nowhere near same as going from 60-144 or especially 30-60.

Project Ara looks very interesting for this reason. It ditches all that crap in favour of "Hey you want it? Here, have it!" Do I want a 4k screen in a phone, no. But I do want a good camera (I love using an SLR, but practicality dictates otherwise), a decent processor (for on the fly photo tweaking mostly), a nice screen and a bloody good battery (plus the little things like GPS etc.). The only feature that a normal phone has interested me with recently is waterproofing. That's genuinely helpful because water accidents do happen (jumped into a pool with my phone one I hate to admit).
fingerbob69 15th July 2014, 10:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Maki role: . At the rate it is going we'll be able to play full PC games at 4K resolutions on a 5" screen very shortly.

Yes ...but would you want to?
rollo 15th July 2014, 11:19 Quote
Most of Intels lack of pushing performance comes down to 2 things lack of any competition in the desktop and server markets ( 90% of intels revenue is these 2 markets)

Lack of software to take advantage of any higher performing CPU.

As for rendering 4k video that's why you use workstations where the dedicated cards can do the task in a matter of minutes instead of weeks.

CPU rendering has changed in the last few years to the point where you require 32-64 threads to even see sub 1hr time on 4k 3 min vid.

Whilst the cheapest dedicated card will do the job in a few a seconds.

CPUs are still getting better as time goes on if I upgraded my 950 rig with this CPU I'd see noticeable improvements I'd imagine.( maybe not in gaming which is all it's used for but in other areas it would be a lot faster)

Games unless poorly coded have not really pushed a CPU.

Sins of a solar empire and supreme commander both suffer CPU related slow down due to number of AI instructions for all the units on the screen.

Crysis 3 runs the same on pretty much any CPU launched in the last 5 years.

Even the whole core race as people quoted it as never really materialised. AMDs 8core chips whilst cheaper get blown away by any 6 core intel chip. For people who need more than 4 cores money is not the biggest problem in 99% of the cases in business.

Intel need a real competitor to be pushed in desktop and servers once it happens you never know.

Mobile I've always wondered how long before they just offer apple fab space and take on the billion dollar contracts that they would surely get from them, its easy money for them with no real risk.

Eventually if they make a decent chip they could even convince apple to use it they have a long standing partnership with Apple. Apple get a decent lead time on CPUs from Intel. The only reason Intel graphics have gone anyplace is due to Apple.
SchizoFrog 15th July 2014, 12:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerbob69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Maki role: . At the rate it is going we'll be able to play full PC games at 4K resolutions on a 5" screen very shortly.

Yes ...but would you want to?

I did state that mobile 'hardware is already pretty much surplus to requirements', which does suggest that it is not something that I would be looking for in a phone.
EasterEEL 17th July 2014, 15:14 Quote
Despite the hype DC is basically a binned 4670K / 4770K with better TIM to reduce temps and additional capacitors to smooth power delivery to the processor. Comparing the 4770K/4790K CPU's the clock speed is up from 3.6GHz (turbo 3.9GHz) to 4.0GHz (turbo 4.4GHz). The 4790K achieves this at similar temps so it is an improvement i.e. a 10% faster processor currently about 5% more expensive.

Realistically Haswell is a hot processor under load and my watercooled system (emphasis quietness vs. extreme cooling) with all cores @ 4.4GHZ non-stressed temps are around 30C (ambient 24C). But stressing with AIDA core voltage automatically increases to 1.273V which pushes the cores to 70-75C and transient spikes to low 80's and this is under water! Normal day to day usage including video encoding it gets to a toasty 70C+. I am not convinced 4.8GHz is substainable within a sensible temperature envelope when core voltage is above 1.25
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