Haswell chip completes Ultrabook 'revolution'

The head of Intel's mobile PC group shows working Haswell silicon and provides more details about Ultrabooks today at the Intel Developer Forum.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Mooly Eden of Intel discusses Ivy Bridge and Haswell chips at IDF.
Mooly Eden of Intel discusses Ivy Bridge and Haswell chips at IDF. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--The head of Intel's mobile PC group today showed a working "Haswell" chip, provided more details on Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor, and said the Ultrabook "revolution" would achieve fruition with the 2013 Haswell chip.

Mooly Eden, general manager of the company's PC client group, began by defining the Ultrabook as the best of the tablet and laptop worlds, saying the Ultrabook fulfills both data consumption and creation needs. The former is what most people do on an iPad, for example, and the latter is using the PC as a traditional business computer.

The Ultrabook's calling card is its lightness and thinness, not unlike a tablet.

Eden showed the first working version of Haswell, a chip that will begin appearing in Ultrabook laptops in 2013 and "complete the Ultrabook revolution," according to Eden.

Though Intel is providing few details, Eden told CNET that Haswell will be Intel's most integrated mainstream chip to date and will include almost all the core PC silicon on one chip.

But before 2013 is 2012 and Ivy Bridge. Ivy Bridge will ship in volume in the first quarter of 2012. That chip will have 1.48 billion transistors, and some of them will be dedicated to providing better graphics performance and improved power efficiency compared to current Sandy Bridge processors.

Ivy Bridge is also expected to bring USB 3.0 to more laptops (including Ultrabooks) because Intel will, for the first time, integrate support for USB 3.0 into its silicon. A multimedia-acceleration technology called DX11 will also be supported in Ivy Bridge.

More generally, he described upcoming Ultrabook technologies such as Rapid Start and Smart Connect. Rapid Start brings an Ultrabook out of hibernation mode in about 5 seconds. Hibernation essentially turns a PC off and therefore can boost battery life, but it can take as long as 60 seconds to bring a PC out of this state; Rapid Start aims to speed up that process. Smart Connect gets e-mail and social-networking updates, for example, even while the system is standby.

Microsoft's Bret Carpenter shows off an Intel-based tablet running Windows 8.
Microsoft's Bret Carpenter shows off an Intel-based tablet running Windows 8. James Martin/CNET

Eden also described the complex Ultrabook supplier ecosystem that will be necessary to build very thin and very power-efficient systems. The supply chain will need to supply components like prismatic batteries, thinner/more power-efficient displays, and thinner hard drives, he said.

Of course Windows 8 will be a large factor driving Ultrabooks in 2012. Because Windows 8 will provide a touch interface, it will enable three kinds of designs, said Erik Reid, general manager of the Mobile Platforms Division of Intel's PC Client Group.

"You'll see Ultrabooks in three designs. You'll see traditional clamshell. I expect to see clamshell with touch [display]. And [third] I think you would expect to see some designs that you would call hybrids or convertibles--with dual-use mode that takes advantage of touch capabilities," he said.