Intel is hoping to breathe new life into the beleaguered notebook market with the launch of its fourth-generation "Haswell" Core processors, the Ivy Bridge successors that will usher in a new generation of ultrabooks and convertible PCs in the second half of next year.
The chip maker unveiled its upcoming 22-nm Haswell processors today, during the opening day keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
According to David Perlmutter, executive vice president, general manager, Intel Architecture Group and chief product officer, the fourth-generation Core processors based on the new Haswell microarchitecture will be nearly 20 times more power efficient compared to second-generation Sandy Bridge processors, operating at about 10 watts. They will also afford a faster and overall smoother performance compared to the third-generation Ivy Bridge Core processors.
These enhancements in both low-power and performance will make the new Haswell 22-nm processors ideal for mobile devices, including thinner and more lightweight ultrabooks and hybrid PCs.
"It was designed with mobility in mind," Perlmutter told the nearly 5000 attendees in Tuesday's keynote. "Anything from sleek tablets to an ultrabook to eventually a high-performing desktop and workstation."
Perlmutter also highlighted a number of new features expected to debut on next year's Haswell-powered ultrabooks. In addition to being touch-enabled and Windows 8-ready, some next-generation ultrabooks, including the Dell XPS13, will come with native voice-activation capabilities, an enhancement provided through Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking program.
Similar to Siri, the voice-activated assistant that debuted with Apple's iPhone 4S, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software will allow ultrabook users to perform Google searches, post tweets and complete other hands-free tasks.
What's more, many new ultrabooks will come with native NFC support for MasterCard's PayPass Wallet feature, which will let users make purchases on participating e-commerce sites by simply placing their credit card on their ultrabook's touchpad.
Reinvigorating th PC market
The introduction of Haswell and new features such as voice activation represent a larger effort on Intel's part to reinvigorate the traditional notebook PC market, a space that has been dealt a significant blow over the past year due to the surge in adoption of tablets and smartphones. Intel last week warned investors that its third-quarter earnings are going to be weaker than originally projected because of a continual softness in PC demand.
Perlmutter briefly touched upon Intel's plans to carve a broader space for itself in the tablet and smartphone markets with its next-generation Clover Trail Atom processors. Clover Trail is the successor to the chip maker's low-power Atom chips, which currently fuel a handful of smartphones from Lenovo, ZTE and Lava International outside of the U.S. The new low-power processors are said by Perlmutter to already have over 20 design wins for new tablets and smartphones slated to launch next year.
As it encroaches more and more on the lucrative mobile market, Intel will face off more directly against industry leader ARM, the U.K.-based chip licensor whose low-power processors are already found in nearly 90 percent of the world's smartphones.