Print 63 comment(s) - last by flyingpants1.. on May 30 at 3:55 PM

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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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.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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