Bridge from gadget guilt: Intel's new chip slashes energy

The Ivy Bridge microprocessor could hit the market this week, delivering 20 percent more power with 20 percent less energy. Good news for all of us CO2-belching PC and gadget users.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor

Our addictive, no-going-back, persistent use of gadgets, screens, PCs and laptops is a primary contributor to CO2 emissions. Every time we download a song, send a text message, share a photo or even post a blog, we're using so much collective energy that we're overshooting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

But Intel's forthcoming Ivy Bridge microprocessor could help soften the environmental blow we all deliver.

A BBC story today neatly summarizes the energy efficiency improvements represented by Ivy Bridge, the processor that's expected to hit the market by the end of this month and start driving new generations of PCs and laptops.

"We'll be delivering about 20 percent more processor performance using 20 percent less average power," Intel PC business chief Kirk Skaugen says in the story.

As the BBC points out:

The fact that Intel's new transistor technology - the on/off switches at the heart of its chips - are more power-efficient could be crucial to its future success.

To date it has been largely shut out of the smartphone and tablet markets, where devices are most commonly powered by chips based on designs by Britain's Arm Holdings.

Arm now threatens to encroach on Intel's core market with the release of Windows 8 later this year.

Microsoft has decided to let one variant of its operating system work on Arm's architecture, paving the way for manufacturers to build laptops targeted at users who prioritise battery life over processing speeds.

There's more guilt easing coming. According to the Skaugen, Intel's Haswell chip, due next year, will deliver 20 times improvement in laptop battery life - so users will have to charge up less frequently.

Image: Foreignpolicy.com

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