Haswell: Intel's key for unlocking the post-PC world

Haswell: Intel's key for unlocking the post-PC world

Summary: Haswell is set to be Intel's key processor for mobile devices right up to servers and its combination of thrifty power consumption and advanced graphical capabilities could power a new generation of post-PC devices.


Intel has a range of chips in development, but none seem more important for the company than the upcoming fourth-generation Core processor, codenamed Haswell.

Haswell will span mobile devices through to desktops and eventually high-end servers. Never before has Intel attempted to bridge so many devices with a single architecture.

Intel is hoping to plug Haswell into a range of devices. Image: Jack Clark

"It was designed with mobility in mind," Dadi Perlmutter, general manager of the Intel architecture group, said in a keynote speech at IDF on Tuesday, noting it should "span the power performance from the tablet to the ultrabook to a high-performing desktop workstation".

With Haswell, Intel hopes to bring together the post-PC diaspora — tablets, convertible PCs, ultrabooks — by having them all sit on a single processor.

Power saving

Intel aims to do this by offering a chip with sufficiently low power consumption for it to go into mobile devices, and a high enough performance ceiling for it to go into PCs and servers as well. 

Haswell's power savings come from two things — improvements to the chip architecture, along with better-than-expected performance of Intel's new 22nm 'tri-gate' fabrication process, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said on Tuesday.

"With fourth-generation core we're going to nearly double the battery life" — Kirk Skaugen, Intel

The chip company is preparing to start shipping a Haswell-based development ultrabook to developers with a chip that draws 15W of power, Skaugen said, and plans to launch the chip generally in the first half of 2013. One version of Haswell will have a power draw of 10W. This compares favourably with the 17W draw of an Ivy Bridge-based third-generation Core processor

"With fourth-generation Core, we're going to nearly double the battery life," Skaugen said.

Along with boosting battery life, Haswell is designed to make mobile devices, such as ultrabooks and tablets, more desirable to consumers by imbuing them with a range of futuristic, compute-intensive features.

So far, Intel has said Haswell should give devices it sits in greater support for multiple displays; processor-intensive augmented reality; depth tracking via integrated cameras; and features like text-to-speech voice interfaces via a tie-up with Nuance


Taken together, Skaugen thinks Haswell could spawn "more innovation in the next 12-18 months in the PC industry than in the past decade".

Intel's gamble is that the advanced media features of Haswell, combined with its 20-times improvement in idle power consumption over Sandy Bridge chips, will give it a processor that is competitive with those from rivals like ARM.

The chip should be able to "burst with capabilities far above what an Atom or ARM or other device" is capable of, Skaugen said.

However, the proof will be in the sales of the devices and this is not a sure thing — the grave state of the global economy caused Intel to cut its earnings forecast for its third financial quarter on Friday, due to depressed consumer demand. 

The next year will be crucial for Intel as it shepherds its Haswell processors into devices made by major original equipment partners like HP, Dell and Lenovo. What happens next depends on the consumer, and whether the new capabilities of Haswell devices will be compelling enough to make people part with their money in a cash-strapped time.

Topics: Intel, Laptops, Processors, Servers, Tablets

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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  • Post PC

    There is no post PC world, only a PC plus world. The PC is not going away any time soon.
    • tell a lie often enough and people will

      Take it as truth and make it a reality.

      I agree with you; this is more like PC Plus... but the mindset will still be sold to the gullible...
      • PC plus is a neat term

        HypnoToad72, hayneiii@
        I like the PC plus term, I'm going to have a think about this and ask some Intel execs. Thanks for your comments!
        Jack Clark
    • Totally agree.

      If I had to choose between a tablet and a laptop. I would choose a laptop every time. Particularly if the laptop was thin, lightweight and had great battery life. And since Intel now has the SSD caching algorithm built into the chipset so that you can have 32 G Bytes of SSD right on the motherboard to cache the HD, you can get near SSD performance with 500 G bytes for a decent price.
      • Hybrids are the wave of the future

        I would choose a Hybrid. The best of both worlds. A removable screen that becomes its own tablet with a dock with nice keyboard & large storage capacity. Hope these chips make that more of an easy task for manufacturers.
    • So, are we still in the mainframe plus world?

      I remember when the mainframe folks thought PC's were toys. They were, but they got better. Tablets are going to do the same thing, they're going to get better.

      The determining factor is where are the developer resources going. Microsoft had it right, developers, developers, developers. Where are developer resources being deployed? Hint, it ain't Win32 apps running on XP. The developers never completely left the mainframe era hardware, but all the applications that ran better on a PC, did. History will repeat itself.
      Info Dave
      • Mainframes

        Mainframes are pretty much gone, since a pc based server can do what a mainframe of 20 years ago could do.. But when it comes down to pure power, nothing beats a super computer..
  • Post PC

    We are still some way from linking our brains to the information highway ...
  • The Intel guy, Skaugen, disagrees with you about the "post-PC" world,

    and your quote of him proves it:

    "Taken together, Skaugen thinks Haswell could spawn "more innovation in the next 12-18 months in the PC industry than in the past decade"."


    IOW, he's talking about the PC industry, and not the "post-PC" industry.

    BTW, any device which is capable of doing any kind of computing, and responds to input commands and processes those commands, and issues responses/results, and is capable of storing the data for future consumption, is a "PC", and it doesn't matter what the size of that device is.

    The "post-PC" mantra is getting old and stale and stupid, and, it's mostly the language of the tech bloggers, and the regular consumer thinks about "computers" and PCs, and smartphones, and tablets, notebooks, and laptops, but, I've yet to hear anyone, in "real life", refer to a computing device as "post PC". The term and definition doesn't fit the real world environment.
    • adornoe - skaugen recognises both

      Hey Adornoe
      Haswell is a funny one - it's going to be the centrepiece of PCs, but it's also Intel's key device for getting its powerful chips into 'post-pc- ultraportable devices. Having spoken to Skaugen, I take his comments to mean that Haswell is a double play. It's going to shore up PCs, and also go into other devices. This is why I think the chip is so interesting - Intel is trying to cover many bases with a single architecture.

      As for the definition of PC, while that may be true, I find that when you say PC to people they typically think of a desktop. Though I suppose that could be an English semantics thing.
      Jack Clark
      • While you might be right, "post-PC" is not a goal of Intel, nor of any

        other company.

        From the sounds of it, and the actual occurrences in what has transpired, the goal is for a much more mobile type of device, which, is not really "post-PC" when the power being included in those devices is equal or superior to what PCs of the past were.

        In reality, it's the term that is the problem. If a PC can perform the same tasks as a PC of the past, and can it it a lot faster, and ca perform many of those tasks concurrently, and in a much more compact casing, it's still a PC, regardless of the look or contents.

        Intel might be looking at conquering all of the computing form-factors, but, downsizing the components is not the same as downsizing the capabilities that PCs are known for, and, in fact, the Intel CPUs will still be designed with the x86 architecture in mind, only a lot smaller and more capable. To a lot of tech-minded people, x86 is the synonym for PC, along with Windows, of course, and Windows is just, mostly, getting a UI makeover. Things might look different and smaller, but, we're still using PCs.
  • Time to bury the phrase "post-PC"

    "With Haswell, Intel hopes to bring together the post-PC diaspora — tablets, convertible **PCs**, ultrabooks"

    Kinda hard to take the rest of the article seriously after you self-contradict in a single sentence, sorry.

    As far as I'm concerned, you just threw the phrase "post-PC" into the mix just for flame bait.

    Frankly, it's time to give that phrase a proper burial and move on. It's a dead phrase.
    • its a semantic problem

      not really a contradiction - a convertible PC is not a typical PC, but I take your point about the clunky nature of the post-PC term. I think PC-plus is probably a better way of expressing things.
      Jack Clark
  • Crunch

    So this new line of chips will crunch numbers a lot faster than my current top-end i7 machines? Until someone can guarantee that I don't see me becoming a post-PC buyer.
    • Haha

      Intel will gladly sell you an i7 or a Haswell. Either way they make moolah.
  • let's hope

    let's hope it works haswell as they promise!
  • Sounds to me like...

    "Intel aims to do this by offering a chip with sufficiently low power consumption for it to go into mobile devices, and a high enough performance ceiling for it to go into PCs and servers as well."

    So, does this mean Intel is going to start buying processors from ARM?