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Intel is hoping to breathe new life into the beleaguered notebook market with the launch of its fourth-generation "Haswell" Core processors, the Ivy Bridge successors that will usher in a new generation of Ultrabooks and convertible PCs in the second half of next year.
The chip maker unveiled its upcoming 22-nm Haswell processors Tuesday, during the opening day keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
According to David Perlmutter, executive vice president, general manager, Intel Architecture Group and chief product officer, the fourth-generation Core processors based on the new Haswell microarchitecture will be nearly 20 times more power efficient compared to second-generation Sandy Bridge processors, operating at about 10 watts. They will also afford a faster and overall smoother performance compared to the third-generation Ivy Bridge Core processors.
These enhancements in both low-power and performance will make the new Haswell 22-nm processors ideal for mobile devices, including thinner and more lightweight Ultrabooks and hybrid PCs.
"It was designed with mobility in mind," Perlmutter told the nearly 5,000 attendees in Tuesday's keynote. "Anything from sleek tablets to an Ultrabook to eventually a high-performing desktop and workstation"
Perlmutter also highlighted a number of new features expected to debut on next year's Haswell-powered Ultrabooks. In addition to being touch-enabled and Windows 8-ready, some next-generation Ultrabooks, including the Dell XPS13, will come with native voice-activation capabilities, an enhancement provided through Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking program. Similar to Siri, the voice-activated assistant that debuted with Apple's iPhone 4S, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software will allow Ultrabook users to perform Google searches, post tweets and complete other hands-free tasks.
What's more, many new Ultrabooks will come with native NFC support for MasterCard's PayPass Wallet feature, which will let users make purchases on participating e-commerce sites by simply placing their credit card on their Ultrabook's touchpad.