Intel HD Graphics 4000

Intel has been adamant that the graphics architecture in the Ivy Bridge CPU is much more than just a process node transition, calling it a "tick plus" on multiple occasions.  Not only are there simply more EUs (execution units, SIMD processing blocks) but each of them has been improved as well.

Right away, we should note that the graphics portion on Ivy Bridge running at 22nm makes it a step ahead of the 28nm parts just being released by both AMD and NVIDIA on the discrete side, though process alone means pretty much nothing.  The HD 3000 graphics on Sandy Bridge including up to 12 EUs and on Ivy Bridge we see that increased to 16 EUs with the HD 4000 processor graphics.  Intel has added support for DX11 as well, though they’ll have to prove that to us with continually updated graphics drivers for it to really mean anything.

Also included is an increase in the performance of the Quick Sync video transcoding technology.

The base architecture from Intel has changed in a way to allow for scaling into the future with higher performing integrated graphics on later chips; think Haswell and beyond.  The GPU is divided into five different domains: setup, rasterize, shaders, media and display. 

Pretty much all of the above domains have been improved on in some way including the addition of tessellation units, vastly improved anisotropic quality and a higher possible thread count for complex shaders. 

The media engine is improved and in our testing the Quick Sync technology is indeed about twice as fast as Sandy Bridge! 

An updated FDI (flexible display input) allows for three concurrent outputs for some impressive integrated graphics multi-monitor solutions.  While we wouldn’t expect to see any kind of surround gaming with the technology soon, the ability to run three monitors using only the processor graphics on Ivy Bridge should allow non-gamers to get just about all they need from the processor alone.  

This table gives us a quick top-down view of the changes moving from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge for the integrated GPU.  Clock speeds still remain the same with an "up to" level of 1350 MHz depending on the Turbo Boost and shared TDP limits at each instant.  Newer version of OpenGL and DirectX are supported so the HD 4000 graphics should at the very least be more compatible with games and applications on the market.

We will dive more into both the gaming and Quick Sync performance later in our review. 

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