Could price be Haswell's Achilles' heel?

Could price be Haswell's Achilles' heel?

Summary: Haswell might add hours of battery life to Ultrabooks, but that comes with a hefty price tag attached. Will price sensitive consumers be willing to pay a premium for improved power consumption?

TOPICS: Processors, Intel
(Source: Intel)

A lot of pixels have been spilled over the past few days in relation to Intel's new Haswell processors. As far as power goes, they're a little faster than previous generation hardware. But when it comes to power consumption, the Haswell architecture with its built-in voltage controller is light years ahead of Intel's older Ivy Bridge architecture, as well as anything that AMD has to offer.

But this power saving comes at a price.

Intel announced two new processors aimed at Ultrabooks, the Core i7-4650U (2.9GHz base, 3.3GHz turbo, 4MB cache) and the Core i5-4350U (2.6GHz base, 2.9GHz turbo, 3MB cache). These are priced at $454 and $342 respectively for a tray of 1,000 processors.

Compare these to the equivalent previous-generation Ivy Bridge parts, the Core i7-3687U and the Core i5-3437U, which are priced at $346 and $250 respectively, same as they were the previous month according to Intel's price list.

That's a heck of a premium that OEMs – and eventually customers – are expected to pay for better battery life. That Core i5 Haswell processor alone costs almost as much as an entire Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet, which is powered by an 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail processor.

While battery life has grown to be a very important metric, I'm not sure that it is important enough that price-sensitive buyers – both regular consumers and cautious enterprises – will be willing to pay such a hefty premium in exchange for a few extra hours of battery life.

We'll have to wait and see.

Topics: Processors, Intel

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  • I wonder?

    "That Core i5 Haswell processor alone costs almost as much as an entire Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet, which is powered by an 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail processor."

    So put this chip in that tablet instead of the Atom and now you have a tablet that costs about $650 but has a 4th Gen Core I5 in it.

    How much does an iPad cost again?
    Don't fear the future
    • AMD Jaguar Temash and Kabinis Better Values Than Intel

      For APU multiproccessing on a performance per watts and price performance basis, the AMD Temash and Kabini (with same Jaguar-based tech used in next-gen Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One), are much better values.

      HP announced new 10-point touchscreen notebooks based on AMD Kabini that break the $399 price barrier. That's followed by offerings by Acer, Lenovo, MSI and Gigabyte.

      At the end of this month, we will find out Microsoft's plan to replace the Intel i5 in the Surface Pro tablet with a chip based on AMD's Jaguar.
    • The iPad mini? (the W3's form factor compatriot)

      Starts at $329.
    • Yeah but..

      It would only run for about a hour or two. The Atom and Atom like processors are still WAY more efficient then even the haswell chip. So far the chip manufacturers have not made a chip that will let us have the best of both worlds. However it will allow the ultra book/Air's to either have even more battery life, or be even slimmer and lighter(due to the reduced batter).
    • do you know how read

      $454 and $342 respectively for a tray of 1,000 processorsthat =454 dollars for1000 chips how does this cost as much as a tablet?
      • Believe that's...

        ...$454 and $342 EACH respectively for a tray of 1,000 processors
  • Oops, my bad.

    Thought that was the w510 that cost's $399 on Microsofts website.

    Put it in that tablet instead. 11.6 inch (w510) versus 8.1 inch (W3).
    Don't fear the future
  • Those are the high-end chips.

    They're the ones that OEMs charge around +$200 during build-to-orders.

    Most notebooks come with mid-end processors, not the maximum configurations.
  • Yes

    Price is one of Intel's primary barriers to entry in many markets. What they attempted to do is have different performance/different price offering in the Core/Atom architectures -- but the compromise was too much.

    Whether it is "too expensive", we will know when the next line of MacBooks gets announced, probably in few days.
    • Good point . . .

      So the real issue going forwards is how MS leverages Intel's lower cost Bay Trail chips that are supposed to provide significantly increased computing power over the current Atom chips, including video capabilities, while increasing battery performance as well.

      How competitive will Intel make these chips, so we can see $300-400 10-11" tablets? Also, how competitive will AMD make its Tamesh chips? How competitive will MS make W8 licenses for these no smaller display, ultrabook style tablets?

      Personally, I said from day one that the Surface RT device should NOT have shipped with Office but included the basic touch cover. Had MS brought Surface RT to market in this configuration for less than $450, then they may have seen a couple of million devices sold by now.
  • First those are the high end ultrabook chips.

    Not the low range one. Look for silvermont and airmomt for tablets. Second Intel has much more room to play in price as their huge tech lead in manufacturing over arm. They will adjust just enough to get the market share they want and have better margins there than anyone else.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Haswell vs Atom

    I think Haswell's going to be for those users who demand performance above all, whereas Atom is gong to be for the more price conscious. I would just advise Intel to devote some resources to improving Atom's 3D graphics capabilities, as gaming is pretty important in the economy computing device sector.
    • Yep

      Atom is being used for the same use cases Netbooks were used in, and one of the things people did a lot of was play simple games like "Bejeweled." Hopefully Atom is seen by Intel as a valuable property.
  • you guys who are still waiting around for haswell

    and the $199 windows 8 pro tablets that run all day can continue dreaming. By the time that reality occurs the world will be on to some other technology than the tablet, which seems like an imperfect stepping stone to something better. An 8" windows tablet whose prime benefit is running legacy software is, at the end of the day, a practically useless novelty item. Even loverock thinks tablets are a fad.
  • $700 tablet

    It is quite clear this tablet will cost around $700 at least, which is not a deal-breaking price if it can deliver (close to) windows' functionality and ipad's battery life.

    However, the right chip is just one part of the equation.
    Nhan Trung
  • Short Answer?


    I don't use a tablet and I only use my laptop at my desk, plugged in. Power consumption be damned. I want a cheap i5 or better machine that doesn't overheat. How about one of those?
  • Difference of 11 cents per processor

    I think readers are missing the per 1,000. The cost increase is less than 11 cents per processor. I would be willing to pay that for improved battery life.
    • Had the same thought

      I had the same thought at first, but his statement is somewhat ambiguous. The other interpretation is that those prices apply if you buy in batches of 1,000 pcs, which makes more sense from a magnitude perspective. A high-end i7 mobile chip probably would cost ~$450.
  • but who cares

    The top-of-the-line, fully unlocked (and thus overclockable) Core i7-4770K is priced at $339. not a bad price guys
  • Lightyears ahead of AMD?

    What lightyears? AMD just released 19W Server CPU's... There are 16 Core AMD CPU's that are sub 100W TDP? I have a 65W 6 Core CPU... The APU in my HTPC is 45W and thats not even their new tech... So I'm not sure what light years you are referring to but you must have traveled back in time a few years to make that statement..