Intel unveiled a new chip architecture on Tuesday the company is calling Haswell that promises 24 hours of use on “Ultrabooks,” with 10 days of connected standby time. Today’s announcement was centered around Windows and Android, but the processors could also find their way into Apple’s MacBook Air and/or Pro line, too.
In addition to extended battery life, the company showed off a prototype of a computer running off of a solar cell the size of a postage stamp. The figure below shows both the prototype and the intense interest in that prototype.
Intel Prototype Computer Running on a Solar Cell
(Click the image for a larger version)
There were essentially two families of processors talked about by Intel at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The first are “Ivy Bridge” processors based on the company’s 22nm technology. This process uses the company’s 3-D Tri-gate transistors that were unveiled earlier this year and will be the successor to the current Sandy Bridge processors Apple is using today.
These processors are being aimed at Ultrabooks, which is Intel’s name for PC laptops designed to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air. The company spent a lot of time Tuesday talking about them with regard to Windows 8, which Microsoft officially showed off this week.
In any event, Ivy Bridge processors will be faster and consume less power than today’s Sandy Bridge processors, and lo! This is good.
Unless Quetzalcoatl Spoils the Party
Looking towards 2013, however, we’ll be reaching into uncharted territory with Haswell processors. The major point of this next-next generation processor is to reduce idle platform power “by more than 20 times over current designs without compromising computer performance.”
The 10 days of standby time mentioned above will, according to Intel CEO Paul Otellini, be reached by a combination of this lower idle power consumption and unspecified “industry collaboration.”
The unprecedented battery life that Apple has achieved with today’s MacBook Air (7 hours of use, 30 days of standby) were achieved largely by Apple’s own R&D efforts (including finding ways to use new third party technologies like solid state drives (SSDs) for storage and other developments). Intel has been working hard to get the rest of the PC industry to work as hard as Apple in delivery similar improvements to Wintel devices.
You may be asking why we would be so delighted by 10 days of connected standby time in 2013 if Apple can deliver 30 days of standby time today. The difference is the one word, connected. Intel is talking about 10 days of use with your laptop running and connected to a network, but not being actively used with its display on.
Intel described it as, “Always-on-always-connected computing where Ultrabooks stay connected when in standby mode, keeping the e-mail, social media and digital content up-to-date.”
That will be a significant achievement when it is delivered to market.
The company said that these future processors would be able to run off the power of a solar cell as big as a postage stamp, and the company even brought along a prototype that did just that.
Unless Apple switches to its own ARM-based family of processors for its MacBook Air line, we should be seeing these Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors coming to an Apple laptop over the next two years.
And lo! It was indeed good.