Intel is hoping that a new generation of processors featuring lower power consumption will help boost flagging PC sales, especially of portable devices such as notebooks and tablets.
The new processors are based on Intel's Haswell architecture. These processors are a follow-on from the Ivy Bridge architecture and carry forward many of the features of the architecture. This includes a 22-nanometer manufacturing process and 3D tri-gate transistors. However, Haswell silicon will feature new instruction support -- including AVX2 and FMA3 -- will include on-board graphics support for Direct3D 11.1 and OpenGL 3.2, and will provides Haswell-Ex DDR4 support for enterprise and servers.
The new processors also feature new sockets -- the LGA 1150 for desktop systems and rPGA947 and BGA1364 for mobile devices.
It has also been rumored that Haswell processors will feature a redesigned cache and offer support for the Thunderbolt I/O protocol.
But the real end-user benefit in Haswell is power efficiency, with Intel saying that the chips can slash power consumption by as much as 41 percent in notebooks and ultrabooks. In real terms, power consumption has been cut from 17 watts to 10 watts, offering a massive improvement in performance per watt.
The problem now is that processors no longer sell devices, it's the devices that sell the processors, and as such buyers aren't concerned any more about GHz, cores, and L2 cache sizes. However, a processor that features lower-power consumption is something that translates into a metric that everyone can understand -- longer battery life.
We can expect more information on Haswell when Intel's annual developer conference kicks off on September 11 in San Francisco.
Haswell silicon is expected to appear in notebooks and Ultrabooks released in time for next year's holiday season, so they are still some time away in real terms.
Image source: Intel.