Detachable tablets running Intel’s new Core M chip are designed to combine low power with PC-grade performance
Intel’s new Core M processor will launch in portable devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Toshiba starting next month, the company announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
Core M is primarily designed for convertible devices – ones that can act either as a laptop or as a tablet – and represents Intel’s latest effort to renew consumers’ interest in devices that run its products. In recent years, laptop and PC sales have stagnated as buyers have turned to smartphones and tablets, which typically run processors based on designs by Intel’s rival, UK-based ARM.
‘World’s thinnest laptops’
“Core M is the first of a new product family designed to deliver the promise of one of the world’s thinnest laptops and highest performance tablets in a single 2 in 1 device,” said Intel senior vice president Kirk Skaugen.
The chips, which are the fifth generation in the Core range, are currently planned to power Windows 8.1 tablets, with no Android devices currently lined up. Intel said it sees five to seven devices launching by the end of this year, with the figure rising as high as 20 next year.
Core M is the first chip to use Intel’s new Broadwell architecture, a dual-core chip that draws as little as 4.5 watts, making it the lowest-power Core processor yet. It runs at speeds starting at 800MHz when running in tablet mode, scaling up to 2.6GHz when running PC applications.
The low power draw makes it suitable for thin, fanless devices, while still giving access to PC software, Intel said, estimating that Core M devices can deliver as much as eight hours of video playback. For standard laptops the company is planning follow-up chips, the Core i3, i5 and i7, with higher clock speeds and drawing 15 watts of power or more.
Reduced chip size
Broadwell uses a new 14-nanometre manufacturing process, scaled down from the 22nm process used in Intel’s current chips, and uses a new three-dimensional “tri-gate” design, which also helped to reduce chip size. The changes mean Core M is 50 percent faster at processing tasks compared to the fourth-generation Core and 40 percent faster at graphics, Intel said.
The detachable tablets introduced at IFA have relatively high price tags: Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 is priced starting at $999 (£620), Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199 (£744) and HP’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 is priced starting at $1,049.99 (£651). All are scheduled to ship in September or October. Intel said Core M devices could be priced as low as $699 (£434).
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