Intel pins hopes on Haswell to boost PC sales

Intel pins hopes on Haswell to boost PC sales

Summary: While buyers no longer seem to care about GHz, cores, and L2 cache sizes, Intel's new Haswell delivers on metric that everyone can understand -- power efficiency.


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.

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Processors

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  • Oh man I was hoping

    It would come a little earlier, like Summer 2013. I am not buying a new PC until 2013, I want to reduce my electricity bill, so Haswell configured with an SSD will contribute to that. Also looking into an All In One 27 inch.
    • Chip savings not that large

      5 watts reduction (assuming not wasted elsewhere) will save 1 kWh every 8 days, representing a saving of 25c per week.

      It all adds up I guess;-)
      Richard Flude
  • Not sure about this part . . .

    ". . . as such buyers aren't concerned any more about GHz, cores, and L2 cache sizes."

    Um, AKH, are you sure about that? At least on the smartphone side of the house, all the Apple and Android fanboys sure have been complaining about WP's lack of support for multi-cores, etc.

    As you well know, the mobile space places a premium on battery life. Assuming W8 has good reception on tablets, these Haswell chips will certainly do well for those looking for a real laptop replacement in the hybrid tablet computing landscape, especially if we see display sizes of 12-13 inches becomes mainstream.
    • No longer easily compared

      People don't pay as much attention to specs because the variations are no longer linear. It's no longer as simple as P-II vs P-III.

      How do you compare a 2.0ghz dual core, 3.0ghz single core, and a 2.4ghz quad core? What about Intel i-cores vs AMD phenoms? What's an Atom processor? What is ARM? Are Centrino's still used? What about Pentiums? Where do Semprons fit in? Does it make a difference if I have a desktop, laptop, netbook, ultrabook, tablet, phablet, smartphone....arghh!

      The average user doesn't know what to make of this anymore...nor do they care. It's too much. Techies still like to see specs. But average users just know that if their current device is slow, then a new one must be faster.
      • performance

        you compare by performance. Granted that relationship between variation in specs and performance is no longer linear but there is still a relationship. More cores (especially with properly designed software), higher clock frequency and more cache size will ultimately translate into faster processor and better performance.
        There are a whole lot of people that still care more about performance than battery life. Everyone is not "mobile" computing need-wise. Businesses especially. I work in the Oil industry where we have software that carry out seismic interpretation on 2TB of raw seismic data from 3D seismic survey. Such software needs the most power it can get.

        I am not saying there are not some group of users that prefer battery life but what I find irritating is that the original author that is supposed to be a professional journalist deemed it fit to make statement like "...metric that everyone can understand -- longer battery life." is this statement correct? does everyone mean every single computer users on earth? instead of saying everyone, why not just say every mobile users or something?

        I do have a problem with the quality of tech journalism.
    • WP7

      Thats only to do with WP7, WP8 can support up to 128 cores: As per Microsoft tech specs in the Surface Launch video.
      • Android x86 have

        more potential to sell more mobile Intel chips than WinP8.

        WiP8 will solve that and other shortcomings of WinP, but will it be able to do more than Android? (and on 4'-7' all that talk about legacy apps comp, is pointless).
      • Surface

        will be running either Windows RT or Windows 8, definitely not Windows Phone 8. I think you're a little confused.
  • Aren't screens what drains most of the battery

    It's hard to understand how reducing processor power dissipation will _significantly_ extend battery life or impact the user experience.

    Afaik the screen is the component that - by far - consumes most of the battery.
    (see, for example, the impact on battery life by changing LCD to LEDs)

    It'd be interesting to see how much percent this power reduction represents in the overall power consumption of a mobile device.
    It's probably very slim so it doesn't seem like a selling point at all.

    Light, thin and shiny (and of course fast) is what many users look for.
    • it's a healthy amount

      Consider that these laptops typically have AC adapters that puts out 90W max, cutting 7 watts is not insignificant.

      Of course, a straight comparison is difficult, given that it isn't like swapping video cards in a desktop - by the time Haswell drops, there will have been other advances made - more efficient chipsets, better batteries, etc, the only thing that matters is come Christmas 2013, OEMs start talking about 10 hour battery life, vs the ~8 we've got now.

      And, keep in mind that at least one well-respected tech site recommends checking the power consumption of SSDs as something else that can help battery life. In that case, we're talking a difference of 3 watts, give or take.
      • Significant advancements in batteries is very difficult.

        Most of it comes out of packing bigger and bigger batteries (by making bigger devices and shrinking other components).

        So its always good to have more power efficient hardware.

        But more important is 0 watt modes, where unused hw is simply turned off. (When was the last time when you used your phone in a given day for longer than you have it at idle?)
        • Power savings vs Lower wattage

          The articles I have read suggest that the ability of the processor to shut down and ramp up quickly provide more savings that the TTDP wattage CPU's have. Since these modern CPU's have more processing power than is needed 90% of the time in average use, fast switching of power states, shutting down unused cores and fewer processes running provide more effective power savings.

          Also, some of the newer laptops only provide 3 hours of battery life but they are using 4 cell batteries instead of the 6 and 8 needed in older models to attain the same 3 hours of battery life. Savings are in weight and size.
    • Lowest power...

      If power consumption and battery life are really important, you need to consider both the screen and the processor... and the little green power-on LED.

      The result then is, of course, that you resign yourself to computing with an abacus - in the dark...
  • Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge both have OpenGL 4.0 support.

    And Open Source team at Intel (they make drivers for Linux), also did expressed desire to match OpenGL 4.0. (and OpenGL ES 3.0!)

    So why you still list OpenGL 3.2 as max that Haswell could run? Intel is only GPU vendor who support DX11 but not OpenGL 4.3. So the problem must lie in their GPU DRIVERS not hardware.

    Only question is:
    Will they stop at OpenGL 4.0 or go up?
  • Give me a 10 watt full

    x86 processor over an arm device any day... Especially in a windows 8 based tablet. Given the uses over and iPad or android tablet it's a no brainer in my book.
    Sam Wagner