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Long-life laptops almost with us

John Davidson (via SMH) | April 8, 2013

Long-life laptops almost with us

Intel showed off this Haswell-powered laptop at CES in January.

The "Haswell" chip that is going to save Intel, and save us all from laptops that run out of juice halfway through the day, has started shipping to PC makers, meaning new, long-life Windows machines are just around the corner, according to reports.

Intel will announce at a conference in Beijing this week that manufacturers already have the Haswell chip in their factories - the first-ever Intel Core chip designed from the ground-up for low power consumption. That's according to the technology news website CNET, which cited "a source close to the company".

This is big news for anyone who uses a laptop or a tablet, and wants one that can run fast all day long. Intel has been talking about Haswell for years, positioning it as the chip that will finally get it (and, by extension, Windows) into the tablet game in a big way, and maybe even arrest the drift away from laptops.

While past generations of Intel's main PC processor, the Core, have been tweaked and retrofitted to minimise their power consumption, Haswell is the first one that started life on the drawing board with low power consumption as its main goal. Intel claims the battery life improvements garnered from moving to Haswell will be the biggest that the company has ever offered between one generation of chips and the next.

Arguably, it's come a little late for the chipmaker, though. The relatively high power consumption of Intel's existing chip lineup has meant that, for very low-powered devices like smart phones, most manufacturers have moved to the more battery-friendly ARM processors, made by Intel's rivals. And that move to ARM has trickled upwards, meaning most tablets are ARM, too, when (as far as Intel is concerned) they should be running something with a little more grunt. Laptops, too, are starting to appear with ARM chips, and if that trend continues it will be armageddon for Intel.

So, for everyone's sake, machines powered by Haswell had better hurry.

The initial rollout of the Haswell computers won't be helped by a bug that Intel has identified in the set of chips that accompanies the main processor. On Friday, Intel officially notified PC makers that USB devices attached to Haswell machines can vanish after the machine goes to sleep. The solution calls for some new hardware, which could delay slightly the rollout of certain products, according to Intel. But all in all Haswell is "still on track" for a mid-year launch, Intel said.



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