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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, 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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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.


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