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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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RE: Any word on high resolution support?
By michael2k on 5/24/2013 1:24:24 PM , Rating: 0
The problem is that MS has to anticipate the market being ready for 4K, or lose in sales to products that do push 4K when the market is ready.

If MS only pushes one update a year (as opposed to Android's and Apple's multiple), they have to be ready even if 4K isn't viable until next March.

Also, the market is perilously close to being ready. Apple's 15" MBPr was shipped last June and is 62.5% of a 4K UHD display. If Apple, as an example, ships a 17" MBPr this June (or a 20" iMac 4K UHD, or a 4K Cinema Display), how long will it take for Windows to respond?

Apple shipped the Retina iPad last year in April and a full year later Windows still doesn't support that level of density.

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. :)

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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