IDF 2012: Intel demonstrates Haswell 4th-gen Core processors

In his keynote, Intel exec Dadi Perlmutter said that the company was once focused on CPUs but has evolved to focus on platforms and experiences. That may be true, but the star of the show was still a CPU, specifically the 4th-generation Core processor, code-named Haswell, due out next year.
Written by John Morris, Contributor

In his keynote to open the annual Intel Develop Forum, David (Dadi) Perlmutter, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Architecture Group, said that when IDF began the company was solely focused on the CPU, but it has since evolved to focus on platforms, and most recently, mobile. That may be true, but the star of the show was nevertheless a CPU as Intel gave its first public demonstrations of systems running its 4th-generation Core processor, code-named Haswell.

Intel gave two Haswell demonstrations. In the first, he compared a Haswell-based Ultrabook to a reference system using an Ivy Bridge processor that consumes about the same power. The Haswell system delivered a 2x increase in graphics performance in the same power, he said. The difference in the graphics performance was obvious. This is especially significant because the current 3rd-generation Core processors, or Ivy Bridge, already delivered a significant increase in graphics. Perlmutter joked that this is something people expect from Intel but it is no "small exercise." In the second demonstration, Intel compared a current 17-watt Ivy Bridge systems to a 4th-generation Core processor running at half the power (about 7.8 watts in the demo). The Haswell system delivered the same level of performance, he said.

Perlmutter said that Haswell was designed with "mobility in mind" and is meant to work with everything from "sleek tablets" to Ultrabooks to "eventually" high-performance desktops and workstations. The first systems based on Haswell CPUs are expected to ship in the first half of next year.

The rest of Perlmutter's talk was on what he called experiences and how Intel can deliver them. "I'm going to talk about reinventing computing, once again. Not the first time. Definitely not the last time," he said.

As an integrated device manufacturer with its own manufacturing, transistors, architecture, and software and services, Intel is well-positioned to deliver on this, he said. Mobile devices, the Internet of Things and the explosion in data are all driving demand for computing. In the data center, Intel has been doing a lot of work not only on processing, but also on the fabric and interconnects that tie it all together.

But the real revolution, he said, is in mobile personal computing. Intel introduced the first generation of Ultrabooks in 2011, followed by a second wave based on 3rd-generation Core processors (Ivy Bridge) a few months ago. With the upcoming 4th generation Core processors, coupled with Windows 8, "great things can be done." He showed examples of several recent Ultrabooks and convertibles including the Lenovo Yoga and Sony Vaio Duo. He talked about the wide variety of experimentation happening in form factors from slates to systems to detachable keyboards to convertibles.

Form factors, though, are just the "basics."  Mobile devices also need platform capabilities that can enable these new experiences. He talked about the rise of "natural, intuitive computing" using touch, speech and gestures. Perlmutter said not only tablets, convertibles and detachables, but also many clamshells will come with touch with Windows 8. He showed a demonstration of new speech recognition software, developed with Nuance, for tasks such as searching for images, shopping for sunglasses, viewing Twitter feeds and playing selected music. Perlmutter said this software for Ultrabooks will be available as a beta in the fourth quarter and will ship in the first quarter of 2013. To support gesture-based computing, Intel has been working with Creative and SoftKinetic on smaller, cheaper USB-powered 3D cameras and software. Eventually these will be integrated into systems.

Intel has been talking about security for some time, but they seem to be making real progress. In a joint demonstration with Gary Flood, a MasterCard executive, Intel showed how the card company's PayPass Wallet system combined with Intel's security technology and NFC could be used to make online shopping much quicker and easier.

Perlmutter said that more than 20 Atom (Clover Trail) tablets will be released in tandem with or after the Windows 8 launch. There will also be many Intel Core-based tablets. To illustrate how the same software can run on Atom-based tablets, such as the Asus Vivo Tab, and Core-based convertibles such as the Dell XPS Duo, he gave a demonstration of Cyberlink's video-editing software running on both systems. The Core-based systems, however, are able to handle more powerful features such as motion-tracking in video to create masks to edit videos. This latter feature was impressive, especially on a tablet. Finally, Perlmutter said that Intel had been making steady progress on smartphones--noting the Atom-based smartphones from Lenovo, Lava, Orange and ZTE--but he did not announce anything new.


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