Could price be Haswell's Achilles' heel?

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?

(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.


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