Working silently behind the curtains, Intel is slowly but surely proving it is the alpha-dog when it comes to processor production. In early July, they released the new 4th Generation processor family, all based on the Haswell architecture.
The Haswell series, which will be followed by Broadwell sometime in 2014, is the successor the the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge series of processors. These are all present in the i3, i5, i7 under the names 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, and now Haswell takes the Stage as 4th Gen.
This series is Intel’s big move to consolidate the Ultrabook market, which serve devices with the portability and battery life of tablets, and the sheer performance of PCs.
The general direction in which Intel is moving with processor architecture shows that it wants to take the mobile and tablet market by storm, and gain a leg up over ARM, who is currently dominating the tablet scene.
The new 22nm manufactured Haswell architecture doesn’t offer much in terms of a performance boots. But it takes graphics and battery life to a whole new level, and is pushing notebooks and Ultrabooks to have a near tablet-like battery standby time, with stunning graphics. This processor family can give near week long standby time, and simultaneously enable the computing power of PCs.
Intel aims to get new standards of battery life, by moving towards Mobile-U low voltage models, and System-On-Chip design, where nearly all functionality is integrated onto the chip itself. Existing Ivy Bridge generation Ultrabooks must offer more than five hours of battery life, for instance. With Haswell, that leaps to nine hours for idling in Windows 8 and six hours of HD video playback. It also has new sleep patterns, allowing it to periodically update Email and Social feed, while remaining low-power consuming, similar in many ways to the smartphone.
Another aim of the whooping-1.4-billion transistor chip, is to improve graphics. After all, graphics performance is one major reasons why people choose to stay with a laptop/desktop. The Haswell series is a giant push toward getting near desktop like graphics, and comes in various flavors, with the Intel HD 4600 and 5000 cards that offer around 20% speed improvement going on lower-end models like the Acer S7, to the new Intel Iris and Iris Pro series, with upto a 40% boost.
The Haswell line has already started shipping out on select devices, and the reviews have been stunning. Apple promises the new Haswell powered MacBook Airs will deliver 70 to 80 percent better battery life and graphics that are up to 40 percent better than the previous Ivy Bridge-powered models. The Dell XPS 12, Acer S7 are set to hit the market, and the Sony Vaio 13 is already out there.
The roadmap of Intel shows a path-breaking processor every 6 months or so. They work on getting Haswell’s successor, the Broadwell out in the 2nd half of 2014. If Intel does plan on racing ahead of ARM, it needs to get lower TDP. ARM still has the leg up here, though Intel promises a sub-5W TDP on types of Broadwell.
Intel’s desltop efforts in ’14 will be mainly through the Z97 on Haswell refreshed.
The stiff competition keeps innovations at an all time high, and the future has never looked so promising.