For years Intel had a simple magic formula, leverage high volume consumer sales to help sell lower volume enterprise parts with huge profit margins. Intel rode this wave to complete dominance in the microprocessor industry and made significant money in both the consumer and enterprise markets. The success of Microsoft’s Windows operating system only helped Intel further, hence the nickname Wintel.
Intel’s magic formula is now under assault from the likes of NVIDIA, Qualcomm, AMD, and other ARM chipset makers who seeing success in the mobile computing space. It is widely accepted that within five years most mainstream computing will move to smartphones and tablets. Intel does not have a dominant position in smartphones or tablets, its long term viability is threatened, and their magic formula is broke.
So where does Haswell come into play? Haswell is a new microprocessor architecture designed to compete to be a long-term solution to Intel’s ARM problem. While Atom processors will still play a role in the ultra mobile space, it may be prudent to remember that Atom was designed for UMPCs and netbooks, both of which failed.
The overall goal of Haswell is to reduce power usage still while increasing performance to allow for battery life. New laptops with ultra low voltage Haswell chips should have a 20% increase in battery life when compared to Sandy Bridge computers. This will amount to an additional three hours of HD video playback. Intel has also spent a lot of time increasing the standby time of computers. Intel believe it has doubled this capacity with the potential of having your laptop suspended for over 10 days.
The performance improvements in Haswell primary come from Intel integrating the power management into the chip by adding many voltage regulators into a single chip. This allows the computer to use less power when doing simple tasks and ramp up to use more power when doing more demanding tasks. Less power usage = better battery life.
It is widely expected that we will see many ultrabooks and tablets sporting Intel’s new Haswell chips at Computex starting June 4th. With Intel’s new chips, Windows 8 finally has a fighting chance to compete with the iPad’s 10 hour battery while maintaining better performance. Haswell chips will not be cheap, and people expecting a reduction in PC Tablet prices are being quite naïve.
Are you waiting to buy a tablet/laptop with a Haswell chip inside? Let us know in the comments below.