Intel goes low-power crazy at CES

Intel goes low-power crazy at CES

Intel's CES 2013 presentations included new Ivy Bridge chips with a claimed 7W SDP (13W TDP), low- and high-end Atom parts and a convertible Haswell laptop dubbed North Cape.

Intel has taken to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to unveil its upcoming products - and its focus on destroying British chip giant ARM in the mobile space has never been more obvious.

First, the rumoured low-power 22nm Ivy Bridge Y-series chips. Launched at the event, the chips are indeed lower power than the current 17W minimum thermal design profile (TDP) available in the existing Ivy Bridge line-up - but a far cry from the sub-10W figures Intel is bandying around. Instead, the two chips boast a 13W TDP.

The dual-core Core i5-3439Y runs at 1.5GHz, with Turbo Boost pushing a single core up to 2.3GHz in single-threaded situations or 2.1GHz with both cores active. HyperThreading is enabled, allowing the chip to run four threads simultaneously. 3MB of L3 cache is included as standard, while the chip can clock down to 7W - the source of Intel's 'sub-10W' claims - in certain situations, a measurement Intel calls scenario-driven power or SDP. The in-built Intel HD graphics runs at 350MHz as standard, or 850MHz in Turbo Mode, with the in-built memory controller supporting DDR3-1600 and low-power DDR3L-1600 memory modules.

If you need more power from your Ultrabook, there's the Core i7-3689Y. While still a 1.5GHz dual-core part, the chip has a higher Turbo Boost frequency of 2.6GHz for single-threaded applications or 2.4GHz for dual-core use and 4MB of L3 cache to the Core i5's 3MB. As with its stablemate, HyperThreading provides support for running four threads in a 13W TDP. A scenario-driven power (SDP) figure for the Core i7-3698Y has not been provided by Intel.

Intel has announced that the chips will be made available to OEMs in a micro-ball grid array (BGA1032) package priced at $250 and $362 respectively (around £155 and £225, excluding taxes) in trays of 1,000.

Intel's next announcement was a continuation of its assault on ARM, with the Atom Z2420 system-on-chip processor platform. Codenamed Lexington, the SoC is based on the same Saltwell platform as the Z2460 found in the Motorola Razr i, but at a reduced cost. Aimed at emerging markets and budget handsets, the Atom Z2420 runs at 1.2GHz, includes the same Imagination Technology SGX540 graphics hardware as Apple's iPhone 4, and a separate modem providing HSPA+ connectivity - but not, sadly, Long Term Evolution (LTE) support.

Intel also hinted at the features of Bay Trail, the follow-up to the current Clover Trail Atom platform for tablets. Demonstrating a handful of devices on the stage, Intel promised support for both Windows 8 and Google's Android - something Clover Trail can't offer - with the first devices expected to hit the market before the end of the year. It'll also be Intel's first quad-core 22nm tablet-centric Atom SoC offering, with promises of double the compute performance over the existing Atom offering and devices on the shelves by the end of the year.

Intel also detailed some plans for its next-generation Haswell processors, which the company claims will offer the largest generation-to-generation boost to battery life of any Intel chip in the company's history. With the initial products due to concentrate on the laptop and tablet market, Intel's Kirk Skaugen showed off a reference laptop design dubbed North Cape with a detachable display - borrowing a design cue or two from the ARM-powered and Android-based Asus Transformer family. When docked, Skaugen claimed the device can run for up to 13 hours using a pair of batteries - one in the display and one in the base - although no figure was given for undocked runtime.

Most interesting of all is Intel's new rule for Haswell-based Ultrabooks: unlike the current-generation Ultrabook guidelines, all Haswell-based Ultrabooks must be fitted with touchscreens in order to adhere to the company's rules and describe themselves under the protected term. Additionally, they'll all need Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology to be built-in.

With Intel focusing hard on low-power devices, and especially on the smartphone, tablet and convertible markets, it's clear to see that its battle with ARM is entering a new phase - one which will peak when Haswell, with its claimed improvements in power efficiency, launches later this year.


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r3loaded 8th January 2013, 12:33 Quote
While they were on updating the ultrabook spec, Intel really should have added some thickness and weight requirements. Some so-called ultrabooks are actually really thick and heavy yet they meet the other requirements of the spec.
greigaitken 8th January 2013, 12:42 Quote
until laptop screens are also sub 10w then then it doesnt matter all that much.
Picarro 8th January 2013, 12:54 Quote
I want Haswell out pronto because that will mean the launch of the Lenoxo X240 - which I desperately want for my studies.
Blackshark 8th January 2013, 17:51 Quote
LoL - you young uns! Lenovo X240 for your studies :-) I remember when I wanted a P90 - (pentium) and managed to get buy it plus a rather nice 'triniton black' 15 inch sony monitor that (although) being 15inch weighed as much as the 23 inch giants at Uni (Southampton)

Good luck in your studies and I hope you get it
OcSurfe 8th January 2013, 20:11 Quote
Low power will be the way most things will go,
Reduce power usage, reduce my bills, reduce global warming, SAVE THE UNIVERSE!
well done intel!
Skiddywinks 8th January 2013, 22:57 Quote
Originally Posted by greigaitken
until laptop screens are also sub 10w then then it doesnt matter all that much.

This. Iterative power consumption decreases are always good, but when the single most power draining component is the screen, which are only getting bigger (especially in smartphones) and higher resolution, then you are going to get to the point where even a 70% decrease in draw from the SoC isn't going to make a difference to the 95% total energy draw the screen already had.
Gtek 10th January 2013, 20:22 Quote
Haswell GT3 + thin ITX - my cheesecake recipe
ssj12 11th January 2013, 21:06 Quote
Originally Posted by greigaitken
until laptop screens are also sub 10w then then it doesnt matter all that much.

demand OLED screens then
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