June 4, 2013
Intel’s New Haswell Chip Faster, Cooler And More Efficient
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and they are likely to become even more so in the coming years as the technology both improves and gets more affordable. And an integral part of that technology is the processor that´s at the core of everything they do. Which is why a recent Intel press event at a trade show like Computex in Taipei was so important.Intel finally and formally announced their so-called Haswell line of processors, chips which are expected to not only power the next generation of high-end laptops but also bring PC-like performance to tablets and other mobile devices. Apple is already rumored to be making use of these Haswell chips in their newest line of MacBook Pro laptops, making them even thinner and improving their battery life.
“Two years ago we talked about reinventing [the notebook] with the ultrabook and today we´re talking about 2-in-1. It´s PC performance and tablet-like mobility in one,” explained Intel´s executive vice president Tom Kilroy during a demo at Computex.
“We´re on the verge of ushering in an exciting new era. We believe the 2-in-1 era is the new norm.”
As more 2-in-1 devices hit the market (including hybrids like Microsoft´s Surface Pro) the chips that power them need to be developed for all the tasks they can perform. For instance, hybrids are asked to run web apps, download data from the Internet and do it all quickly while powering a bright and colorful display and lasting at least an entire day on a single charge. This is a tough task for any chipmaker to take on, and Intel has previously admitted that earlier versions of their chips used in hybrid devices weren´t necessarily meant to stand up to such pressures.
Intel claims Haswell has plenty of power to fuel hybrid devices and PCs alike, packing four cores in each chip for a 15 percent boost in performance over their previous line, Ivy Bridge. But Haswell isn´t just expected to improve performance. According to Intel, their new family of chips offers a 50-percent improvement in active-use battery life and three times the amount of standby battery life.
They are able to deliver this kind of performance thanks to two new improvements. First, Haswell uses an average of just six watts of power during “regular” tasks. As it uses less power, it also runs cooler than previous chips, meaning fewer fans, if any, will need to be used in hybrid and tablet devices to keep users´ hands cool. With less power and fewer fans, the burden borne by the battery becomes significantly lighter.
Some versions of the new chip also pack in an integrated graphics processing unit (or GPU) to boost performance on heftier tasks. This integrated GPU (Intel calls it “Iris”) also means that some devices won´t require a second chip just to display video or 3D graphics. All of these improvements — less power consumption, cooler operation and an integrated GPU — means device makers like Apple and Samsung will be able to produce thinner, lighter products.
Apple, who is already know for creating some of the slimmest, sleekest products on the market, is rumored to announce a new Haswell MacBook Pros next week during its WWDC 2013. Last year during the same event, Apple unveiled the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a super-thin laptop which relied on Intel´s Ivy Bridge processors to power the pixel-dense and high-resolution Retina screen. The high demands of the Retina MacBook Pro taxed the Intel processor, leading some users to notice an occasional lag when switching between screens. A Haswell Retina´d MacBook Pro is likely to improve battery life and eliminate that lag time.