Intel’s Haswell arrives along with a new spec for 4th generation ultrabooks and 2-in-1 devices
Intel has launched the Core Haswell chips which it has been talking about for some months – promising they will enable better 2-in-1 devices that can act as laptops and tablets, with a longer battery life.
As usual when a chip becomes reality, Intel has abandoned the Haswell codename. The announcement at Computex Taipei talked of Fourth Generation or “4th gen” Core chips, and Intel has produced a new set of specifications for Ultrabooks based on the Haswell chips.
Such 4th generation Ultrabooks must have touchscreen capability and low power demands, and many will be “convertible” or 2-in-1 devices combining a laptop and a tablet in one machine.
Haswell becomes 4th Gen
The Haswell generation of Core chips is intended for high-end laptops, Ultrabook, tablets and convertibles, but the Ultrabook is where the action is, according to Simon Lambden, senior user experience engineer, who briefed TechWeekEurope in London.
“The Ultrabook is a premium product, not an also ran,” he said. “It’s not just a thin and light laptop, it offers a lot more to the end user.”
The Ultrabook specification is being improved. To qualify for the label, devices must include touchscreen support, even if they are not convertible devices. “Touch has been a consumer desire for some time – 80 percent of consumers said they want it,” he said – a finding at variance with Microsoft’s experience promoting Windows 8.
Similarly, 2-in-1 devices are an attractive idea, which Intel is getting behind, even though they have not had a huge impact in the market yet. Intel vice president Tom Kilroy told Computex that Intel has 50 designs for 2-in-1 devices coming down the pipeline.
Four different options
The 4th generation chips all have integrated graphics, but some have the high-end Intel version, branded Iris. Some unite the whole chipset into one package (two chips on one tiny board) while others have two boards.
In summary, the versions are:
- H for high-end laptops, with the Iris graphics and two-unit packaging.
- M for mobile systems, using the dual packaging but with non-Iris graphics
- U for Ultrabooks, using the single package with Intel Iris
- Y for low-power systems, and “detachables”, using the single package and non-Iris graphics
“They all have the same basic CPU architecture, but it depends how they are characterised and their target market,” said Lambden. “For example, the U specification takes the power budget for Ultrabooks down from 20W to 15W, so battery life can go up from six hours to eight hours.”
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