Intel Unveils New Broadwell Chips at International CES 2015
Chip maker Intel just showcased its new line of “Broadwell-U” processors on Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), making these Intel’s 5th generation of Core i3 to i7 high-end laptop chips. Broadwell brings several improvements over previous generation “Haswell” chips, namely performance gains and longer battery life. However, the changes aren’t as substantial as the ones that Haswell brought since Broadwell is the “Tick” in Intel’s typical “Tick-Tock” design model. Still, Broadwell should pave the way for a range of powerful new laptops in early to mid 2015.
What’s New in Broadwell
Broadwell shares many similarities with Haswell, as the microarchitectures of the chips are essentially the same. However, the new chips have 35 percent more transistors, despite the die being 37 percent smaller. Broadwell also features Iris 6100 integrated graphics, offering 20-25 percent better graphics performance than Haswell. There was a time when having integrated graphics wasn’t even comparable to having a discrete GPU. But with Iris 6100, Intel’s offering a competitive option for laptop owners who want high-performance graphics without a power-hungry discrete graphics card. Haswell’s better graphics performance should certainly benefit Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, and every chip will support 4K displays. Furthermore, Intel will be rolling out RealSense with Broadwell. RealSense is a new camera technology that allows for advanced, Minority Report-style gesture control without any external peripherals like a Leap Motion or Kinect sensor.
Broadwell will also support Intel’s voice control technology. Certain version’s of Intel’s mobile chips have already supported special microprocessors for voice processing. However, this technology will be available in every Broadwell chip, which will probably be used for Windows 10’s Cortana and, if Apple ever plans on making it, a desktop version of Siri.
In terms of battery life, Haswell offers a mild boost, but nothing significant. Intel estimates that Haswell’s efficiency should provide an additional hour and a half of battery, though actual battery life will, as always, vary significantly from laptop to laptop.
Should You Buy a Broadwell PC?
Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 is one of the first laptops featuring a Broadwell-U chip. Thanks to Broadwell, the Ativ Book 9 can support a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, 10.5 hours of battery life, and a completely fan-less design. Apple has also long been rumoured to have been waiting on Broadwell (which has been delayed multiple times) to build a fan-less MacBook Air with Retina Display.
However, Intel’s next “Tock” update, a substantial change in architecture called “Skylake,” is supposed to be out by the end of the year. Due to Broadwell-U’s multiple delays, the most powerful quad-core Broadwell chips won’t even be in laptops till mid-2015. With that in mind, if you don’t absolutely need a new laptop soon, it might make sense to wait for Skylake, which should offer a huge jump in performance and efficiency the way Haswell did.
Assuming, of course, that Skylake doesn’t see similar delays.
Images from Shutterstock.