Intel goes low-power crazy at CES

January 8, 2013 | 11:06

Tags: #android #atom #ces-2013 #cpu #ivy-bridge #kirk-skaugen #smartphone

Companies: #arm #haswell #intel

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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