Intel's new Haswell processors are quickly earning a reputation for huge gains in battery life and power efficiency, but the company had another surprise up its sleeve. Today, Intel's announcing a limited run of the new Y-series chip that could potentially fit in extremely thin devices and ones that might not require a fan to cool them, like the fanless tablet that the company showed off at Computex 2013.
That's because the new chip runs at a "scenario design point" (SDP) of just 4.5 watts, which basically means that it's slow enough to spend most of its time comfortably living in a chassis designed to cool only 4.5 watts worth of heat. Though the silicon can actually boost speed higher for short periods as the temperature allows, it gives manufacturers flexibility to limit the processor to fit in smaller devices.
Intel had previously brought its former Ivy Bridge processor architecture down to the 10-watt thermal range, and said that it had managed to bring the new Haswell silicon down to just 6 watts as of launch, both of which had us hoping to see thick fan-equipped tablets like the Surface Pro shrink to more manageable proportions. With chips in the 4.5-watt range, that could definitely be a realistic option. It could also be a powerful alternative to the company's upcoming Silvermont Atom devices.