Intel to launch energy saving processors for laptops

 15 Sep 2011 - By Omar Yesid Mariño+

At the IDF 2011, Intel has announced a very interesting thing: Quad-core processors with a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 35W. They will come out with Ivy Bridge and will be part of the Core i7 family.

Latest Processors for Laptops

The specific details of these processors are unknown at this time, as well as final features of the new Ivy Bridge processors. However, the announced design is something that makes us think about microprocessors for laptops, and it’s very probable that they will be used in high-end computers that include the ULV (ultra-low voltage) spec which dramatically reduces energy consumption. In fact, this is not only a product, but also a concept and a goal in the hardware industry during the last years: Reducing and optimizing the energy needed to work, an idea that is in constant evolution.

Some years ago, producing a high-quality and powerful laptop with a battery life of several hours was an improbable (and unbelievable) thing. At that time,  laptops with “extended” battery life often had components with low performance; they weren’t  suitable for day-to-day tasks in professional environments.

But now, the advances in the hardware industry are allowing the production of chips with the similar energy needs of old laptops but with a very optimized use in order to save consumption and help the environment. Besides, those chips are smaller and generate less heat. This happens partly  due to the manufacturing process which currently uses 32 nanometer nodes; in fact, with the Ivy Bridge processors, the chips will be even more smaller: They will be the first 22nm processors family designed for general use.

Another important aspect is that the hardware industry is evolving faster than the software industry; for that reason, the chips are optimizing the energy consumption more and more as the year pass and the performance is not degraded , at least for individual users. So, people can use computers with more efficient processors (and sometimes cheaper processors) and the software performance is  apparently not affected (well, sometimes it is affected but with little impact).

Nowadays it’s not difficult to buy a computer with a price between  $500 and $600, with a very complete list of features,  suitable for almost any task and software or even to run some sophisticated video games.

The future of the hardware industry is tied to the continuous improvement in the efficient use of  energy. The goal is to produce excellent processors for the masses with a really low energy consumption and even better performance that previous processors.

The more powerful models of the Core i7 and AMD FX families will be here for several years, in the short and medium term. But these families will be replaced with other families; and sometimes the new families will be cheaper and less powerful, but good enough for average users. So, the sophisticated and expensive processors will be used only for the most advanced and demanding users.

AMD Fusion and Intel Haswell: Energy efficiency

AMD Fusion

If you up-to-date with the latest news in the hardware industry (and if you are reading this, chances are you’re paying attention to the trends), you know that AMD Fusion and Intel Haswell (the new Intel microarchitecture for 2013) have a common characteristic: Energy efficiency.

In the case of the new Intel microarchitecture, we are talking about a power consumption 20 times lower than the current technology in standby mode. Of course, this architecture is in development stage and maybe Intel could change some aspects, but it sounds like a great advance anyway.  To know the final features we’ll have to wait more official announces from Intel related to the creation of these chips but, without doubt, there is a bottom line which is absolutely defined: Decreasing / optimizing the energy consumption.

As for the competitor, AMD Fusion is the family intended to set a trend for many years to come. At least, the AMD representatives think so. Actually, AMD is working hard to use this family of processors as a gateway to enter to the tablets market as well as the market of energy-saving computers with a decent performance.

Currently, there are some Fusion processors for desktop computers (codenamed Zacate) with a TDP of about 18W, which is a sample of how AMD is also opting for efficiency.

Both Intel and AMD will work with similar approaches in terms of energy and power during the next years. And all of the moves are great news for users including the economic aspect. No doubt, quality computers are getting more and more affordable, even in third world countries.

Better for less should be the motto of every single industry in this crazy world. At least, the hardware industry seems to follow that philosophy.

Disclaimer - Category: Chip, Computer, Processor