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Chasing tablets, Intel reduces Haswell power draw even further

Agam Shah | June 4, 2013
Intel's upcoming family of Core processors, code-named Haswell, will offer 50 percent more battery life in laptops than did their "Ivy Bridge" predecessors, Intel said on Thursday.

Intel wants to match PC battery life with that of tablets through its new dual-core fourth-generation Core processors code-named Haswell.

The chip maker announced Tuesday the new dual-core Core processors for tablets, laptops or "2-in-1" ultrabooks with dual laptop-tablet functionality. Intel intends to reduce the chip power draw to as little as 6 watts, paving the way for Haswell devices that could be fanless and offer the longer battery life found in many tablets today in certain use cases.

The new dual-core chips, announced at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, follow Intel's launch of Haswell quad-core laptop and desktops chips earlier this month. Haswell was designed with laptops and tablets in mind, and the reduced power consumption does not hurt performance, said Dan Bingham, marketing manager of Intel's PC Client Group.

Previously, Intel aimed for power draw of 7 watts, and is now looking to lower the number beyond 6 watts, Bingham said.

"We're not stopping there," Bingham said. "Watch this space."

Depending on usage, laptops and hybrids with Haswell dual-core chips will offer up to 50 percent more battery life compared to previous Core chips code-named Ivy Bridge, Intel has claimed. Laptops will offer battery life of six hours or more when watching high-definition video, according to Intel's estimates. In idle or standby mode, the chips will extend battery life by up to 20 times.

The improvements are vital for Intel as PCs are falling out of favor as users move to smartphones and tablets. Intel wants to bridge the laptop-tablet divide with Haswell with longer battery life and optional detachable touchscreens and keyboards. At Computex, PC makers are expected to show laptops and hybrid devices with screens that detach or fold back to make a tablet.

"This is the first time our architects went out and redesigned things from the ground up," Bingham said. "Reinvention of the PC is how we see it."

Dell has said its XPS 12 hybrid with Haswell chips will offer nine hours of battery life, compared to six hours of battery life with Ivy Bridge chips, which shipped last year. Ivy Bridge chips drew a minimum of 17 watts of power.

The new chips have incremental CPU performance improvements of between 5 and 15 percent.

The Haswell laptop processors offer up to two times the graphics performance than predecessors. Depending on the graphics core, Haswell's laptop chips will support 4K displays, in which images are displayed at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The new dual-core chips include the Y-series Core chips, which will draw between 6 watts and 11.5 watts of power and are targeted at 11.6-inch slates and laptops with 11.6-inch detachable screens. The U-series chips will draw between 11.5 watts and 15 watts of power and are aimed at convertible or clamshell laptops with 13.3 inch screens.


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