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Intel's power-efficient Haswell processor targets thinner laptops with new 10-watt TDP

Intel's power-efficient Haswell processor targets thinner laptops with new 10-watt TDP


Intel plans to push its next-gen Haswell system-on-chip to a 10W TDP, making it flexible enough to fit in thinner computers in the future.

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Intel's holding its annual developer conference next week, from September 11th through the 13th, and while a certain Cupertino computer company will undoubtedly dominate the news on day two, Intel will also have a few things to reveal. Chief among them is the firm's next-gen Haswell architecture, which is still on track for 2013. Well, actually, it's not merely on track: Intel tells us that at least one version of highly integrated system-on-chip is now slated to have a 10-watt TDP. "It's really the first product we're building from the ground up for ultrabook," a representative says.

What does that mean? Well, TDP ("thermal design point") refers to the amount of cooling a system requires to dissipate a chip's heat. Presently, Intel's ultra-low-voltage Ivy Bridge processors, which you'll find in a variety of ultrabooks, have a 17W TDP — half that of a standard 35W laptop part, but still retaining a sizable amount of performance as we've seen. Originally, we'd heard Haswell would have a 15W TDP, only a slight decrease from those ULV chips, but with a 10W TDP, laptops could be even thinner or include more battery than before, with the space they save on heatsinks, heatpipes, and fans.

Mind you, a 10W TDP probably still might not be enough to build fanless Haswell tablet designs quite as thin as the latest crop of Android slates, because most ARM chips are more efficient still, but it could bridge the gap between Intel's Atom and more capable processors. Still, Intel reps seemed to suggest that we shouldn't expect the full capabilities of a 17W Ivy Bridge chip at the 10W level, so we're curious to see how Haswell will perform.

Intel says we can also expect to see the concept of "perceptual computing" highlighted at IDF, with advances in voice processing and gesture recognition, generally focused on the idea of allowing a computer with sensors to be more aware of surroundings and its users intentions. There will also be a showcase of Windows 8 devices, including some Windows 8 tablets, said an Intel representative.