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Intel pitches Haswell as next-gen tablet platform

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:tablet? core processor? microserver? ultra-low power chip?

In an exclusive interview with EE Times, Intel's David (Dadi) Perlmutter talked about the company's latest Haswell core processor. When asked about the viability of the fourth generation Haswell as a tablet platform, Perlmutter, who heads Intel's architecture group, answered with a decisive yes.

A Haswell tablet's performance would require a slightly bigger battery, making it heavier, thicker and more expensive, while fanless cooling would also remain a challenge, but the idea is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, Perlmutter emphasized.

"If you really want high performance, you have to be willing to compromise in areas like TDP," explained Perlmutter, noting that such a tablet could go fanless if the platform operated in the 3 to 4 W range, something that probably won't occur until at least the generation after Haswell.

While it's perhaps a theoretical possibility to get down to that level of thermal envelope, Perlmutter doesn't think it should be treated as a holy grail.

"There's no sweet spot. There are multiple optimizations for different usages," he said.

Meanwhile, as Intel gears up to push Haswell into unfamiliar low power territory in tablets and convertibles, the firm is also pushing the limits on the other end of the scale, with its Atom microprocessor.

The firm is looking to leverage its ultra-low power chip in the microserver space, previously the domain of Intel's much larger Xeon processor family.

"We're going to launch Atom into the space," said Perlmutter, saying the move would happen "later this year."

Since Atom is so low powered compared to its approximately 17W Xeon counterparts, it would of course put out less performance, but Perlmutter noted that the big advantage was the consistency in software, allowing Intel's customers to scale their offerings up or down while running exactly the same software stack.

"You will still apply the same building blocks, fabric and connectivity, making it easier for people to switch back and forth depending on their needs," said Perlmutter, adding that it was all about building a variety of solutions that were consistent.

- Sylvie Barak
??EE Times

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