Intel’s Delayed ‘Broadwell’ Chip Reaches Volume Production


The architecture, optimised for a new 14nm manufacturing process, is aimed at ultra-thin, fanless mobile devices

Intel on Monday disclosed the first details regarding its delayed “Broadwell” architecture, which is optimised for a new 14-nanometre (nm) manufacturing process and is intended to power fanless mobile devices thinner than the iPad, amongst other applications.

The first Broadwell-based chip, codenamed “Broadwell-Y” and named officially the Intel Core M, is now in volume production, and is the first chip in the industry to reach mass manufacturing using a 14-nm process, Intel said.


Reduced heat

The chip reduces heat generation and improves battery life without detriment to performance, Intel claimed, making it suitable for low-power products including cloud infrastructure servers, PCs and Internet-connected embedded chips which enable the “Internet of Things”.

The first Core M-based devices are scheduled to be available in time for Christmas, with broad availability in the first half of next year, Intel said. Asustek said it is using Core M in the upcoming Transformer Book Chi T300 12.5-inch detachable hybrid, which is 7.3mm thick when used as a tablet, and other Core M products are expected to be announced in September at the IFA trade show.

Core M was first demonstrated at the Computex trade show in June, powering a convertible tablet PC reference design code-named “Llama Mountain” that is 7.2mm thick, thinner than the iPad. The chip in that reference design draws 5 watts of power, compared to 10 watts and greater for the previous “Haswell” generation of chips, Intel said.

Smaller package

As well as presenting a package that’s 50 percent smaller and 30 percent thinner than Haswell, which includes the fourth-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, Broadwell offers improvements including better integrated graphics. The chips operate at a lower voltage and improve power management, as well as introducing a second generation of Intel’s Tri-Gate (FinFET) transistor design, which enables better component density, Intel said.

The Core M chips are dual-core, like current Core line for ultrabooks and tablets. Intel is expected to release more details on the Core M chips next month at the Intel Developer Forum.

Intel faced problems ramping the 14nm manufacturing process, resulting in what was called the company’s first significant product delay since the Pentium 4 in 2000.

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