Intel's Haswell chips, due next year, can perform like an Ivy Bridge chip at around half the power.
At its annual Developer Forum last night, Intel unveiled details of its upcoming Haswell architecture - now officially confirmed as due to drop in 2013 as the fourth generation of the Intel Core processor family.
In a presentation to attendees, Intel's David Perlmutter highlighted some of the biggest user-facing changes to appear in Haswell including a massive change in the power characteristics: compared to the second-generation Core processor family, Haswell chips will reduce idle power draw by more than 20 times. The Haswell architecture will also be used on a new family of low-power processors launching in 2013, some of which will feature a thermal design profile (TDP) of just 10W.
'The fourth-generation Intel Core processor family and our new line of low-power processors will usher in an era of unprecedented innovation in mobile computing,
' claimed Perlmutter at the event in San Francisco last night. 'Our focus to deliver even lower power with the great performance that our processors are known for is as fundamentally significant as when we shifted our development focus beyond sheer processor speed in 2001. As a result, you'll see our customers delivering sleek and cool convertible designs, as well as radical breakthrough experiences across a growing spectrum of mobile devices.
Those mobile devices will, naturally, include those built to Intel's pet Ultrabook specifications. With reduced power draw, system builders will be able to increase battery life without changing the weight or size of the laptop, or make it smaller without sacrificing runtime.
Perlmutter's announcement wasn't just about the power savings Haswell will bring to the Core family, however: details of the integrated graphics technology which will join the Haswell CPU cores on the fourth-generation Core processors were provided, promising double the performance over existing Ivy Bridge-based chips.
Combining the reduced idle and lower peak power draws of the upcoming 22nm Haswell processor cores with the next-generation Intel HD graphics technology will be key, Perlmutter claimed, to producing next-generation ultra-mobile devices. Compared to Ivy Bridge, a Haswell chip can run at roughly the same performance in just half the power envelope - a fact that will make OEMs sit up and take notice.
The biggest change for Haswell, however, was announced by Kirk Skaugen in a presentation following Perlmutters: a shift to include the platform controller hub into the same silicon as the central and graphics processors. This is key to the power savings promised from the fourth-generation Core chips - although Skaugen also hinted at other power-saving features which are being kept under wraps until closer to the 2013 launch date.
During his presentation, Perlmutter also discussed the shift to 'perceptual computing' - a system whereby the user's intentions are interpreted through a variety of human-like senses, rather than through a keyboard and mouse. Key to this shift in usability, Perlmutter naturally claimed, is the Intel Perceptual Computing Software Development Kit, due for release later this year. Aimed, of course, at Intel Core-based devices, the SDK will provide gesture interaction, facial and voice recognition as well as augmented reality capabilities for developers.