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Intel brings next-gen 'Broadwell' processor tech to mainstream notebooks, desktops

Mark Hachman | Jan. 6, 2015
The new chips will bring improved battery life and increased performance, as well as new technologies including wake-on-voice and better wireless capabilities.

Intel is also working with Nuance to bundle what it's calling Voice Assistant into PCs--a virtual assistant that will serve until Microsoft is expected to add Cortana into Windows 10.  Finally, Intel is also encouraging its customers to include the RealSense depth cameras it launched last year into notebooks, which include collaboration and gaming capabilities

All in all, the 5th-gen Core chips "can really be summed up like this: great PC and performance, more natural and immersive experiences," Regis said. 

Speeds and feeds
Ten of the Core chips Intel's launching will operate at 15 watts, and another four will run at 28 watts. (The 28-watt chips all use the Iris Graphics 6100 GPU, however, meaning that they'll launch by the end of the first quarter.) The single Pentium and two Celeron chips will also be designed using the new Broadwell architecture. Almost all of the new chips are dual-core models with four threads, with base clock speeds ranging from 1.6GHz to 3.1GHz. Using the overclocking "turbo" mode available on the Core i5 and i7, the chips can run up to 3.4GHz, depending upon the model.

Intel didn't say much about the performance of its new graphics cores. The GPUs integrated into the Haswell generation are pretty robust, provided you don't mind playing slightly older games at lower resolutions. Intel did say that a new Core i7-5600U Broadwell chip with an Intel Graphics 5500 GPU would be 22 percent faster than a Haswell-based Core i7-4600U with an Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU, running the 3DMark IceStorm 1.2 benchmark. And business travelers should benefit from an additional 90 minutes of HD video playback, from about 7.2 to 8.7 hours, Intel said.

Intel is eager to pounce on what it thinks are 600 million PCs that are four years or older and ripe for a refresh. So, undoubtedly, are its hardware partners, exploring a range of all-in-one desktops, two-in-ones, and traditional clamshell PCs. But Intel said that it also plans to capitalize on the explosion of Chromebooks, with a Broadwell Chromebook announcement expected at CES, and shipments set to begin in February. Who will it be? Intel wouldn't say.

Although sales are being spurred by the end of support for Windows XP, Regis also said that buyers are snapping up new systems "not because they need to but because they're finding something that they really want." A significant chunk of the computing industry is hoping she's right.


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