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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, Amazon.com, 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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Nope
By flyingpants1 on 5/24/2013 11:52:57 AM , Rating: -1
Haswell is strange. It's a great enthusiast chip, and it will allow the MBP to last 10 hours instead of 7. But save the PC industry it won't.

Intel is playing the fool, trying to hold on desperately to their ridiculous margins in a collapsing industry. You want to move some more mobile stuff? Stop messing around. Part of the reason we're all going mobile is because it's getting much cheaper to do so. Noone is going to pay $1200 for a convertible tablet with Haswell in it. Ever.

The days of paying $1000+ for a computer are over, period.
$80 buys an Android tablet that does 80% of what people want it to do.
$500 buys an iPad, or a 11.6" Asus Ultrabook, or full-blown 15" i5 3210M laptop.
$800 buys you a 15.6" gaming laptop with 3630QM/GTX660M that can run BF3 on high. Same specs as a $2500 Razer laptop.

Anyone who buys a convertible right now is getting screwed. The convertible tablet market should reflect the PC market. Add a keyboard case to an cheap Android tablet for $15. Bolt a $20 hinge to a $399 Asus Vivobook (includes touchscreen) and you have a cheap aluminum convertible tablet. Yeah it's a little heavy, but it's only $420, not $799 like the Lenovo Yoga, $800+ for the W700 or $1000+ for the Surface Pro.




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.

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx...


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
http://www.geek.com/tablets/samsung-galaxy-tab-3-s...

Possible leaked benchmarks
http://gigaom.com/2013/05/21/leaked-benchmarks-sug...


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...
http://www.itpro.co.uk/644092/smartphone-processor...

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.


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