Intel Announces New 'Broadwell' Chip: A PC Processor With Tablet Appeal


Intel President Renée James showed off the chip maker’s latest Core M processor, a new line of 14nm Core series chips it hopes will ignite a new line of 2-and-1 hybrid notebook devices.

At her keynote at the Computex 2014 tradeshow in Taipei, James said the chips would bridge the gap between tablets and 2-and-1 laptops. James said the Broadwell chips deliver the most energy-efficient Intel Core processor in the company's history.

Intel said the chip will be fanless and ideal for tablets and razor-thin laptops. The Core Ms become available by the end of 2014.

[Related: Intel Unveils 4GHz Core i7 Quad-Core CPU]

During her keynote presentation at Computex, James showed a prototype Core M-powered tablet called Llama Mountain that was 0.28-inches thick and weighed 1.9 lbs. The tablet ran the Core M chip based on the upcoming Broadwell microarchitecture. The tablet, James said, easily supported a keyboard to become a laptop.

By comparison, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 already uses Core i3, i5 or i7 Haswell processors that typically go into 2-and-1 laptops. Intel’s Core M is based on the same Core technology, however, it draws less than 10 watts of power -- significantly less than the 4th generation Cores used by the Surface 3. 

The new 5th-generation Broadwell chips boast 30 percent more power efficiency and zippier performance over its Haswell predecessor. The Broadwell chip, whose launch date was delayed, supports new technologies, such as new graphics cores and DDR4 memory.

James Teases Upcoming Mobile Chip Technology

At Computex, James also teased a number of other upcoming chips, including its first integrated LTE mobile SoC (SoFIA). Sofia is Intel’s upcoming quad-core Atom chip and the first to integrate 3G radio. James said the chip would be available early next year and will be working with Chinese chip maker Rockchip to manufacture custom quad-core Sofia processors for tablet and smartphone makers.

Intel also showed off its new flagship Haswell microarchitecture Core i7-4790K quad-core chip that runs at 4.4GHz -- and can be overclocked to 5GHz. The chip (code-named Devil’s Canyon) runs at 88 watts, has 8 MB of cache, integrated graphics, supports multithreading and allows cores to process two tasks at one time. The Core i7 and i5 processor "K" SKU, James said, is mainly for gaming and enthusiast desktops.

Intel's Tablet Gambit

Cracking the mobile market is one of Intel's biggest challenges and its greatest opportunity. Competitors Qualcomm and Samsung, which use ARM-based chips, account for most of the mobile market. Intel's move to mobile is important because of the rapid narrowing of the PC market. Intel has had to scramble to stay competitive.

Intel's smartphone and tablet division, which reported a $929 million operating loss for its first quarter, shipped 5 million tablet processors in the same time period. Intel, Santa Clara., Calif., was on track to meet its 40-million-unit goal, according to Intel. Market research firm Gartner forecasts 270 million tablets will be sold in 2014.

Intel said it was relying on channel partners to sell one-third of the 40 million Intel-powered tablets it expects to sell in 2014.

PUBLISHED JUNE 3, 2014