Haswell is finally out. Just in time for the big Computex trade show that opens Tuesday in Taiwan, Intel has started shipping its newest Core processor for mobile devices and PCs, and several new Haswell-based devices have already been announced.
Haswell, a fourth-generation Core processor, replaces the third-generation Ivy Bridge line and uses the 22nm manufacturing process that Ivy Bridge helped pioneer. In Intel's famous tick-tock alternate-year strategy -- where tick refers to a manufacturing dice process improvement and tock is a new microarchitecture -- this is Haswell's year of the tock.
Haswell processors are expected to maintain the general performance boost that Ivy Bridge demonstrated over the previous Sandy Bridge processors, as much as a 15 percent increase, while lowering power requirements and reducing generated heat. Intel has said Haswell improves battery life by as much as 50 percent over Ivy Bridge, and provides up to three times the graphics performance. Among other enhancements, the graphics capability in Haswell can support 4K displays with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. Because of the energy efficiency, Haswell is expected to make more of a difference for devices such as laptops.
Core i3, i5 or i7
Processors in the Haswell line will also be labeled as i3, i5, or i7, as Ivy Bridge's have been, except for a following brand number that will begin with 4 instead of Ivy Bridge's 3, plus four or five digits for desktops and five or six digits for mobile device processors. The first Haswell chips are five Core i7 quad-cores for laptops and a dozen i5 and i7 quad-cores for desktops. Dual-cores are expected to be announced later this week.
Intel has been scrambling to acquire a larger presence in the mobile market. In what could be a major victory for Intel and its Atom line of mobile processors, Reuters reported late last week that Samsung Electronics has chosen Intel's Clover Trail+ mobile chip, part of the Atom line, for at least one model in the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tablet line. Samsung has not confirmed the report, nor has Intel.
'More Battery-Kind Products'
On Sunday, three hardware makers -- Asus, Cyberpower, and Microcenter -- announced gaming laptops, desktops and all-in-ones built around Haswell, and Dell, Acer and other PC makers are expected to announced Haswell desktop, laptops and possibly tablets this week.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said Haswell continues the market's trend toward "more battery-kind products," and is a major piece of Intel's effort to become a larger player in mobile.
He added that he expected to see Haswell devices with computing power comparable to ones on the market today, but with "trimmer batteries" and therefore trimmer form factors. Greengart said he also expected "fewer consumers will feel the need for a discrete graphics solution" with Haswell devices, excepting possibly graphics and gaming enthusiasts.