Intel’s New Silicon

Pat Pilcher gets the intel on Intel.


Intel-Core-M-Broadwell-CPUNOT SO LONG ago the future was tablets and the PC was – depending on whose hype you followed – dead or dying. PCs are tough critters though, and have so far just refused to lay down and die.

Even though PCs have evolved, their biggest strength remains their sheer versatility.

I caught up with Graham Tucker, Intel’s Technical Manager, to get the low down on the Core M and a sneak peak at the future of PCs.

We’ve come a long way from the heavy and ugly beige boxes of years gone by. The future looks to consist of hardware that is not only wafer thin but runs on the smell of an oily rag. It’ll also crunch more data than ever at an even faster clip.

Intel’s latest silicon is part of the ‘Broadwell’ family. That may sound like a BBC murder mystery, but their day-to-day branding is ‘Core M’, which sounds more 007.

In a nutshell, they’re the follow-on to Intel’s ultra-energy efficient Haswell processors. Core M CPUs will power what Intel sees as the next great thing after ultrabooks – ultrabook/tablet hybrids.

Reference designs showcased by Intel included a 7mm thin tablet/notebook (totebook anyone?) that was lighter and thinner than the already anorexic Macbook Air.

A big part of this is possible because Intel moved to a 14-nanometer chip production process. Not only does this mean that Core M chips are more energy efficient, but they’ll also produce less heat. Motherboards can also be anything up to 25 percent smaller, too.

The big news here is Core M powered hardware can be fanless, as the Core M draws a mere 4.5-6W of power. Going fanless equates to slimmer hardware and no moving parts. I’m assuming an SSD instead of mechanical hard disks.

Then there’s energy efficiency. Core M powered devices should also be able to wring another 1.7 hours of battery life compared to the Haswell-Y.

If those were the only benefits from the Core M I’d be pretty impressed, but there’s also big performance gains to be had. According to Tucker, the Core M can be anything up to 50 percent faster than the Haswell silicon.

Gamers also win. The Core M’s HD 5300 graphics should offer a 40 percent boost over Intel’s previous integrated graphics.

Intel have also baked in a bunch of other nifty stuff. According to their blurb, Core M CPUs also supports Wireless Display 5.0. Smart Sound (which should allow Core M powered hardware to wake on voice commands) and PCIe flash drive storage.

Longer term, Core M powered gear will also play nice with WiGig for wireless docking. This should see PCs hitting the streets with zero cables or ports.

According to Tucker, there’s over 20 Core M powered devices on the way. The first should be Lenovo’sThinkPad. PAT PILCHER



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