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New chips take voltage regulator module (VRM) off the motherboard for the first time, into the package

As Intel Corp. (INTC) continues the wind-up towards the launch of its latest generation of Core processors powered by the 22 nanometer (nm) architecture refreshed Haswell CPU core, details about the chips' performance continue to trickle out.

I. Power Improvements Galore

In addition to monstrous performance, Rani Borkar, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, promises that Haswell will be Intel's most efficient CPU yet.  The second-generation 22 nm node is expected to deliver around a 50 percent bump in active battery life, Mr. Borkar said in a pre-Computex 2013 press briefing.  Ivy Bridge chips hit as low as 10 watts TDP, but Haswell is expected to cut that down to a mere 7 W TDP.

If that's not enough to impress buyers, Intel's new chips are supposed to bump idle and standby life by as much as 20-times over Ivy Bridge, meaning you'll be able to hibernate a machine for weeks or months even without plugging it in.

The key to Haswell's gains is a new "smart" power controller unit (PCU) that monitors every part of the chip -- from the graphics to the CPU cores to the I/O units.  The PCU can dynamically regulate power allotted to each part of the circuit as needed. This contrasts decades of past designs where clock speed (and power driving it) was often wasted on idle units.

Haswell cuts core power consumption via a new smart power regulator, brings the voltage regulator module inside the package for the first time, and offers more efficient interconnects.

Haswell supporting chipsets also offers improvements on the power electronics front, featuring a leaner voltage regulator module (the motherboard component that converts the higher board voltage down to a lower voltage level usable by the microprocessor die).  With Haswell, the voltage regulator is integrated inside the chip package for the first time (removing it from the motherboard), which will allow for smaller motherboards.

That should be helpful to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTpush for 7-inch and 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets. The explosion of this lower-priced segment helped propel another struggling tablet platform -- Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android -- from a bit player to a serious contender, with designs like the Samsung Galaxy Tab,, Inc. (AMZN) Kindle Fire, and ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet.

The 7-to-8-inch segment offers lower prices due to the smaller screen size.  The form factor was popular enough even Apple, Inc. (AAPLbegrudgingly jumped on the bandwagon with the iPad Mini.

II. Windows 8.1 and Haswell -- A Winning Duo?

The new Intel chip will also have embedded DRAM (memory), which should help further cut down on external components in small form factors.  AnandTech reports that the GPU will have 128 MB of dedicated DRAM in some variants.  The new chip also offers faster interconnects, another factor helping it hit the 7 watt envelope.

Intel has already shared that Haswell cores' revamped on-die graphics processing unit (dGPU) are expected to increase performance between 50 and 300 percent, depending on the model.  Intel has, for the first time, offered a distinct branding for its dGPU, dubbing it "Iris".  Demos showed Iris handling popular RPG/slasher/spellcasting game The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim with with ease.

Windows Blue styles
Intel and Microsoft are both counting on the combo of the free Windows 8.1 update, and the new Haswell chips to boost struggling PC sales. [Image Source: The Verge]
More details of the new chip are expected to come out in two weeks at Computex, which runs June 4-8 in Taiwan.  A number of OEMs are expected to show off Haswell based designs.  More designs may pop up at Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTBUILD 2013 conference, which will be held June 26-28 in San Francisco, Calif.  At the conference Microsoft is expected to offer up a Release Preview of Windows 8.1, the free revamp to Windows 8, which Microsoft hopes will win back critics.  

In many ways Intel and Microsoft's fates are tied together.  Q1 2013 marked the worse percentage drop in PC unit sales in history.  But both companies are hoping that the market reacts strongly to Haswell + Windows 8.1 ultrabooks, hybrids, and tablet computers.

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"Hibernate a machine for months"
By Etsp on 5/24/2013 11:58:14 AM , Rating: 3
If you have a machine running windows that can actually hibernate properly, you can keep it hibernated for years without losing your work. That's because the power is OFF Jason.

Hibernate is like sleep or standby, in that the OS maintains its current state. Unlink sleep or standby, the stuff in RAM is dumped to disk, and the system completely powers off.

If Haswell allows a system to be on standby for weeks, that's certainly impressive.

RE: "Hibernate a machine for months"
By Argon18 on 5/24/2013 2:30:51 PM , Rating: 1
I've never had a Windows machine that can hibernate properly. Dell, HP, and Lenovo have supplied our office's laptops, so it isn't a hardware issue or a single vendor issue. Windows has always been flaky during suspend/hibernate/resume operations.

RE: "Hibernate a machine for months"
By Etsp on 5/24/2013 2:33:25 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I've had major issues with that as well. Some systems work well, and other simply don't. The worst part is that there are very few debugging tools available to help you track down the cause.

RE: "Hibernate a machine for months"
By Freakie on 5/24/2013 9:17:12 PM , Rating: 3
Not sure about you guys, but any laptop unable to hibernate that I have come across, I have been able to fix and get it hibernating again. And any laptop which I've put a fresh install of Windows on has been able to hibernate just fine. Though it is very common for laptops from companies that put bloatware on the machine to have trouble hibernating. For some reason, those companies think that they are doing the customer a service by giving them an unstable machine...

...Come to think of it, I guess they are just doing themselves a service, trying to get people to pay for repairs and extended warranties.

By jeffbui on 5/25/2013 11:04:31 AM , Rating: 2
I had the same problem with my Thinkpad T430s. Windows would fail to update correctly right out of the box and the thing wouldn't hibernate right. I got rid of it pretty quickly because the display on it was terrible. The funny thing is the Retina Macbook Pro I replaced it has no stability problems in Windows. Stuff just doesn't look right with dpi scaling on the display.

By andrewaggb on 5/27/2013 12:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
yeah hibernate has always worked fine for me. I've had various pc's that didn't resume from sleep properly... but hibernate always worked.

I pretty much always fresh install windows on my pc's though, or completely de-junk them.

A better headline
By Dorkyman on 5/24/2013 11:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
I suggest a better headline would have been "a 50% reduction in power consumption." I say this because the current headline implies a device will offer a 50% improvement in run time, when that's not the case--there are other things consuming battery power besides this chip.

This might be my next build
By Mitch101 on 5/24/2013 12:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
Well Im most likely going to get a laptop with one of these in it but can I hold out on my desktop? Im not sporting anything major still using an AMD 965 with slight OC. If I recall AMD's next gen CPU isn't due until early next year so while its tempting to wait to upgrade just the CPU its still half a year away. Supposedly the next gen AMD will work in AM3+ mobos but it has to exist and I wonder if my ram will hold it back now as new chips generally like speedier ram. Im not sold on the current AMD 8 core chips because where it excels Im not doing that so I don't expect to see much if anything over my 965 from AMD. Guess it all comes down to timing do I need to upgrade soon. Tough decision. Really wish AMD would get their 8000 series of graphics cards going already that would hold me over.

By SusanBoyd47 on 5/26/13, Rating: 0
By SherryMorris41 on 5/28/13, Rating: 0
By KarenYoung47 on 5/25/13, Rating: -1
I will believe Microsoft...
By TheEinstein on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: I will believe Microsoft...
By crispbp04 on 5/24/2013 11:31:01 AM , Rating: 5
Very insightful post. Tell me more.

RE: I will believe Microsoft...
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 12:02:01 PM , Rating: 2

RE: I will believe Microsoft...
By Xplorer4x4 on 5/24/2013 6:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
But he's Einstein! You should take his word for it!

RE: I will believe Microsoft...
By Azethoth on 5/27/2013 2:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone have his Twit handle? I need to subscribe.

Any word on high resolution support?
By michael2k on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By Mitch101 on 5/24/2013 12:09:05 PM , Rating: 3
Radeon 7xxx series supports 4k resolution.

Here is the lowly 7750

?The market isn’t ready for 4k video, but Radeon™ is. With full support for HDMI® (with 4K) and DisplayPort 1.2 HBR2, the AMD Radeon™ HD 7750 is set for quad HD.

RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By michael2k on 5/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By Argon18 on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By ZmaxDP on 5/24/2013 3:38:08 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, windows is the primary OS for most AEC CAD/BIM and Graphics applications. A relatively small percentage of Architecture firm run Macs, and almost none run Linux/Unix. Construction is pretty much entirely windows based, with the exception of mobile device access which is actually dominated by iOS, not OSX or any desktop OS. That said, there is a strong trend starting towards windows 8 for mobile devices in AEC - time will tell if it sticks or not, but many companies are mid-pivot in switching to that platform and the rest are testing it.

Also, 4K is great for boring documents and particularly spreadsheets on large-screen monitors. Most of our estimators and accounting staff deal with MASSIVE spreadsheet or table based applications daily, and they all love their 27 or 30 inch monitors because they can see more of their spreadsheets. Give them a 52" 4K screen and they'll worship you - literally. I'm quite sure they'd build little alters out of post it notes and aluminum foil from their brought from home lunches...

Your stereotypes are more accurate for graphics design work, or custom manufacturing CAD solutions - but the primary producers of the "defacto standard" software products for creative and CAD work sell a much higher number of licenses of windows applications than they do of OSX applications. There are of course exceptions (particularly those that only offer OSX versions) but for most of the cross-platform solutions this is true. So, either you're mistaken or creative and CAD types with OSX or Linux boxes are also thieves and steal licenses thus skewing the counts...

RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By inighthawki on 5/24/2013 3:41:59 PM , Rating: 3
I think you have a lot of stuff backwards. 4K is perfect for windows. Editing spreadsheets and browsing the web will look crisp with super smooth text. Windows also has, by far, the largest development usergroup in the world, which can benefit from more/smoother text on screen at once, as well as improved clarity while doing visual application deisng and web development. Windows also has quite a number of users that use pograms such as photoshop for artistic/creative works, and a TON of people who use CAD and 3D modeling programs.

How you could possibly think that Linux/UNIX could possibly benefit from 4K more than Windows is beyond me. Half the userbase is glued to command prompts anyway.

RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By Argon18 on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
By inighthawki on 5/24/2013 11:30:18 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 8 does have DPI scaling. This kind of stuff requires application support to support high DPI aware applications.

Also the command prompt bit was a joke. UNIX users tend to be very command line oriented :). More of a stereotype. Didn't mean to mislead.

I think you are just underestimating the advantages a 4K monitor could have on windows.

By augiem on 5/25/2013 4:19:09 AM , Rating: 2
OSX can benefit as it's the defacto standard for artistic and creative work, which often has large high-res screens.

What is this? 1995? Windows PCs are very much in use in all creative industries. Mac being the defacto standard for DCC is an absolute myth.

By Jeffk464 on 5/25/2013 1:28:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I'm perfectly happy browsing the web and gaming on my 1080p 22" monitor. 4K, as you said, would really increase the graphics card requirements. Maybe porn would look better. :)

RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By CSMR on 5/25/2013 1:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
Intel integrated graphics has supported 1080p for over a decade.

Neither Windows nor Intel cares about the physical size of the monitor.

The problem of resolution is: 1. uninformed users are cheap and buy cheap low res monitors, and 2. users who think they are informed are stupid and believe that the higher the resolution, the smaller things will be on screen.

It's a problem with the Windows PC market, not a problem with Windows itself or with Intel.

By michael2k on 5/27/2013 1:10:28 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, but the resolutions I'm talking about are higher than 1080p. 2x higher, specifically. Intel can currently handle 130% of 1080p (see 13" MBPr), but 200%? That's the question.

Random Thought
By Ammohunt on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Random Thought
By GreenEnvt on 5/24/2013 12:57:11 PM , Rating: 2
Um, for desktops there is nothing stopping you from adding in a discrete graphics card to a computer that has a cpu/gpu combo in it.

For notebooks, with a few very rare exceptions, you've never been able to upgrade the graphics. There just isn't enough room to have removable/replaceable cards.

RE: Random Thought
By Samus on 5/24/2013 1:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
I feel bad for the poor VRM manufactures. POOR VRM :(

RE: Random Thought
By Ammohunt on 5/24/2013 2:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
Same goes for web browsers yet there was a lawsuit.

RE: Random Thought
By inighthawki on 5/24/2013 3:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
And on windows you can install any browser you want ;)

(Not to sound like I agree with the premise of his post, but I don't think you actually have a point...)

RE: Random Thought
By Argon18 on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Random Thought
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 3:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
Won? It's barely started. Dont rule Intel out, they have money, talent, influence, and manufacturing capabilities that can get them in first place in no time at all. right now the 32mn Atom is in a few phones and is the fastest available in many aspects and "middle of the pack" on power. Throw in a few power Haswell style power tweaks and a process shrink and Its by far the best mobile chip available.

RE: Random Thought
By inighthawki on 5/24/2013 3:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
You'd be surprised at what haswell can do in the tablet space. Wait a few months and you'll find out. My guess, ARM will be irrelevant in just a couple years.

By flyingpants1 on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 12:00:56 PM , Rating: 1
"Anyone who buys a convertible right now is getting screwed"

Unless of course, you need an x86 convertible. Android and iPad wont run your x86 apps, which most companies require and "bolting a $20 hinge" sucks. Its all about what you want and some people dont mind paying extra to get what they need, and they may prefer one more expensive device than 2 cheap ones, thus the need for convertible.

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/24/2013 12:46:11 PM , Rating: 1
Compare the 11.6" Vivobook ultrabook for $399 with the Lenovo Yoga 11S convertible for $799. Very minor differences in specs. The only major difference is the (hilariously enough, patented) two-way double hinge on the Yoga. What does that tell you?

I'm sure a rotating hinge doesn't cost anywhere close to $20. Convertibles should start at ~$400. So yes, you are getting screwed.

RE: Nope
By BRB29 on 5/24/2013 12:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't know? those things are actually made from titanium and diamonds to withstand the enormous stress of rotating.

RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 1:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Compare the 11.6" Vivobook ultrabook for $399 with the Lenovo Yoga 11S convertible for $799. Very minor differences in specs."

I wouldnt say that. The Lenovo has this over the Vivobook
- 128gb SSD. - That is alot of $ right there.
- Built in webcam
- Its convertible
- Lenovo has higher quality - lowest defect rates in the industry.

I wouldnt buy either, becasue of the lousy res - 1366x768 must die... But For the price, both are good.

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/30/2013 3:55:47 PM , Rating: 2
No, it isn't. 128GB SSDs are available for under $100. A 500GB hard drive is $40-50.

RE: Nope
By Argon18 on 5/24/2013 2:37:57 PM , Rating: 1
That's fine and well, except that nobody wants an x86 convertible laptop/tablet thing. Nobody. They've been around since the late 1990's. I know, I had one from Compaq in 1999. It was a clunky turd, awkward, heavy, and unpleasant to use. Just as they are today. Which is why it's a non-existent market. There's a scant few products, and even fewer customers for such a device.

RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 5:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
a clunky compaq from 199 is not todays convertible. I agree, there isnt a huge market for it, but its there. We ordered a few this month for users that travel alot. Not a huge market, but invaluable for those that need it.

RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 5:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
and BTW, these are NOT clunky and oversized... Overpriced maybe, but nice when your company buys it for you.

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/28/2013 10:36:03 AM , Rating: 2
Convertibles are a niche product, but would be much less of a niche product if the price was right. 32gb iPads are $599 and people buy the crap out of them. You're telling me if I showed you a convertible ultrabook for $399-599 that people wouldn't buy it? Here's the sales pitch, it's a really fast laptop, AND turns into an iPad.

They are not clunky and unpleasant to use. The macbook air is 17mm thick at its thickest point, and much thinner elsewhere.. They are like 2lbs.. Put a hinge on it.

Battery life is still an issue but Haswell will help that a lot.

RE: Nope
By Mitch101 on 5/24/2013 12:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the silvermont announcement

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 spotted running Intel’s Atom processor

Possible leaked benchmarks

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nope
By Argon18 on 5/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nope
By Samus on 5/24/2013 1:06:28 PM , Rating: 1
So by your philosophy, there effectively shouldn't be a luxury segment for any product.

So basically nobody should buy an Audi or a Cadillac because Ford offers everything anybody needs at any price point.

The problem is, it isn't about what people need, it's about what people want. If people don't want a cheap Pandigital tablet, they'll buy an expensive iPad or Asus Transformer.

You even referenced a Macbook Pro in your first paragraph, only to forget this is absolutely a luxury item in the industry that sells quite well at a very high profit margin.

Intel makes billions and billions of dollars every quarter. That hasn't changed in decades. I don't see it changing. They know more than you ever possibly could about the demographic of user consumption and demand. The only thing they are late to is the mobile market, and even though they are 5 years behind, they already caught up with a superior chip to even the A15. Now its just a matter of market adoption.

RE: Nope
By Argon18 on 5/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 4:19:44 PM , Rating: 3
" intel most certainly has not caught up with ARM. There is no currently shipping intel product that can compete with ARM. None. Zero."

Except for Atom...

And this is a 32mn Atom, and its OK on battery life, not the best, or the worst. Add a few power tweaks and a process shrink and it kicks ass. Now factor in the fact that in 2014 Intel will be on 14nm when everyone else is on 20nm. YOu really need to look again at intel and the power envelope of a modern x86. It's not the x86 of 10 years ago.

RE: Nope
By Argon18 on 5/24/2013 4:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
No, not except for Atom. As you yourself have said "Add a few power tweaks and a process shrink and it kicks ass". In other words, it simply isn't competitive today. It's too slow and too power hungry. It takes years to implement process shrinks. By that time, ARM will still be two steps ahead.

RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/24/2013 5:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
"It's too slow and too power hungry."

Go google some benchmarks of your own... It's one of the fastest mobile CPU's on the planet, and its isnt too bad on power even at 32nm

"It takes years to implement process shrinks. By that time, ARM will still be two steps ahead."

??? What planet have you been on for the past decade? Intel was shipping 22nm CPU's before anyone else got to 28nm. Intel has always been ahead on this. They were just focusing on Desktop/Laptop CPU's, not Atoms. Atom is on 32nm now and is competitive. Intel just within the past few weeks announced they will be focusing on mobile. What that means is Atom will get that manufacturing process shrink when its ready, not years later... We will be seeing 14nm Atoms before 20nm ARM CPU's, so instead of the current 1/2 process node behind and still competitive, they will be 1/2 node ahead.

Really man, update your info and dont count intel out. The last time they were "focusing" they knocked AMD into the bargain bin with the Core2 duo and AMD still hasnt caught up. If Intel really focus's on Mobile, its game over for ARM.

RE: Nope
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nope
By Jeffk464 on 5/25/2013 1:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
It still doesn't get you around the compatibility problem. Its the same reason nobody is buying windows RT.

RE: Nope
By retrospooty on 5/25/2013 4:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
I agree... I was just responding to a specific comment that said Intel has nothing that is remotely competitive, which isnt true. Right now, Atom is 32nm and extremely fast in the few phones that use it... Add a few power tweaks and a process shrink to 22nm like Ivy Bridge and Haswell and its a powerful mobile chip... In 2014 Intel will be shipping 14nm CPU's, very likely while ARM makers will still be on 28nm. With the most powerful chip they will get some design wins and if ARM doesnt step up, they may lose the edge. Just ask AMD how waking Intel up worked out for them.

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/28/2013 10:55:04 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed atom will be likely compete with ARM soon. Problem is neither of them can do very much - a full win8 tablet with keyboard and 8gb RAM is still crippled because of Atom. The Latin word for "Atom" is "crippled". It teases you with the ability to run real applications, but too slow to actually do it. It's like that quote on the bottom of DT pages from a Microsoft guy "Vista runs on Atom.. It's just that no one uses it."

I'd like to see AMD make some $500-600 convertibles with i3 performance. That would change the game, I think.

RE: Nope
By Cloudie on 5/25/2013 3:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
ARM SoCs are cheap as chips. Sure, Intel can compete with them in performance and price but what is this going to do to their profit margins? Esp. as ARM gets closer and closer to "good enough" performance for most people.

I celebrate the rise of ARM. Intel chips are great but they're massively overpriced.

RE: Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/28/2013 10:45:56 AM , Rating: 2
Show me where I said there shouldn't be a luxury segment for any market?? I was simply pointing out the different price points for computing power, it ranges from around $80-800. Anything beyond that is probably a luxury item. Luxury items are a small market by definition and therefore cannot save the collapsing PC industry.

RE: Nope
By invidious on 5/29/2013 2:35:52 PM , Rating: 1
Bang for the buck isn't the end all of consumer buying trends. Not everyone is looking for the bare minimum to scrape by. My monitors and periferals come out to around $700 before I even open up the case. And my rig is pretty modest, no nonsense designer periferals. No offense but your concept of "gaming" on an $800 laptop is probably a lot more simple than you percieve it to be.

Just because my you and my parent's don't need $1000+ computers doesn't mean that no one else wants them. And it certainly doesn't mean the industry should stop making them.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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