SAN FRANCISCO – Intel announced at CES 2015 the Broadwell family, its fifth-generation Core processors. The 14 new chips are essentially versions of the company's 22nm Haswell architecture made in its new 14nm process, providing enhancements it hopes encourages PC and notebook users to upgrade.
Intel will offer dual and quad-core chips -- 10 processors at 15 Watts (both Core i5 and i7 chips) with Intel HD graphics, and four 28 Watt products with Intel Iris Graphics spanning i3, i5, and i7 lines. The dual-core chips have 1.9 billion transistors, a 35% increase over the prior generation, and a 133 mm2 footprint that is approximately 50mm2 smaller than its predecessors. The 15W chips have data rates up to 3.1 GHz while 28W i7 cores hit up to 3.4 GHz.
The Broadwell chips have L3 caches ranging from 2 to 4 Mbytes, roughly the same as Haswell.
The Broadwell family was announced alongside a new 14nm processor for tablets, Cherry Trail, which includes support for Intel's RealSense technology and Category 6 LTE-Advanced when paired with an Intel modem. Cherry Trail products are expected in the first half of 2015.
While the new Core line has modest improvements in productivity, Intel hopes battery life gains will encourage users to buy new devices, said Karen Regis, director of notebook roadmap and strategy for Intel's PC Client Group.
"[The fourth generation processor family] represented the biggest generation-over-generation battery improvement," Regis said during a press briefing. "With the fifth gen, we're raising the bar again. We're reducing SoC power even though it's becoming a smaller part of the power load," she said.
A notebook using a new i7 can last up to 10.1 hours while idle at 4W, an increase of 60 minutes for similarly configured systems using the prior generation. During video playback, the same chip saw a 90 minute battery increase to 8.7 hours while operating at approximately 4.5W.
Broadwell processor die map. SOURCE: Intel
Intel said the chips sport a 22% improvement in 3D graphics performance and 50% faster video conversion fro the prior generation. Across multiple configurations, as much as two-thirds of the die area is dedicated to graphics running between 800 MHz and 1,000 MHz max.
New features integrated in Broadwell include Intel's RealSense 3D depth technology for gesture control and 3D image capture. The chips also support:
- A wireless display interface (Wi-Di)
- 60 GHz Wireless Gigabit
- 4K/ultra-high definition video
- An updated audio DSP core to support voice control, wake on voice, and decode of MP3/AAC
"We're trying to develop new forms of computing that will be more immersive and fun, including that 3D depth technology," Regis said.
The company's PC Client Group saw its fourth consecutive year-over-year growth during the third quarter of 2014. Regis believes Broadwell will fuel continued growth.
Broadwell will power "a diverse range of form factors" from notebooks to so-called two-in-one tablet/notebook hybrids that are "seeing great retail sales momentum," she said. In addition, OEMs will announce the first Broadwell-based Chromebooks this month with the first systems in market in February.
An Intel spokesperson said the company expects the first Broadwell OEM systems in January 2015. Designs with Iris graphics and wireless gigabit are expected by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Prices range from $107 for 15W Celeron processors to $426 for 28W Core i7 processors.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times