New Intel Core i 4th Generation Processor: Haswell

The high-performing Core i family of Intel processors recently got a facelift with the newly released 4th generation processor for desktops and mobile usage, with the codename Haswell. The features of this Haswell 4th generation processor from Intel includes:

  • prolonged battery life – 7 to 9 hours
  • improved graphics
  • Ultrabook touchscreens 
  • 10% overall performance increase 
  • legacy PCI support gone

Longer Battery Life

In terms of battery life, a couple of factors are at play here. First, a 22nm design process was earmarked for this processor model, as opposed to the previous Ivy Bridge processor, which was shrunk down. In addition, Intel revamped the idle power scheme so that when the system is idle and then called upon to do work, the processor does not power up fully and minimizes the power neeeded to engage it into a full active condition only when necessary, enhancing the battery life substantially. It is estimated that a user should be able to get 40% more battery life because of the changes. 

Improved Graphics

The display capabilities have been enhanced as well. You had two display choices with the previous Ivy Bridge processor, the HD 2500 or the HD 4000. With the Haswell, you now have several choices including the carry-over HD graphics,  as well as the HD graphics 4200, 4400, 4600 if you’re using an LGA-1150 socket.  With the BGA, you can go with the  higher end Intel HD Graphics 5000, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, and Iris Pro 5200. 

The Haswell processor requires a different chipset, the 8 series chipset. Both the Series 7 and Series 8 chipsets share a number of things in common; they both offer support for a plentiful number of USB ports, although the series 8 chipset increases the number of USB 3.0 ports to six, and it also increases the number of SATA 3 ports to six.

PCI Not Supported

For the desktop users who are still using PCI cards, you will be in for a surprise. All PCI legacy support is gone with the advent of the series 8 chipset used with the Haswell processor. PCI Express, the new standard which supplanted PCI as the far superior bandwidth vehicle, has been around for 9 years now, and has reached the point of full responsiblity.

Haswell Designations

The telltale sign that you’re buying a Haswell processor is by looking at the number following the “i” designation. If you see one that reads “i5 4xxxx” you know it’s a Haswell, since the first number designates the generation. If the first number is a 3xxxx, you know you’re getting a PC using the previous 3rd generation processor.The letter at the end of this four digit number designates what type of processor and what type of PC it is used with. The designations are:

  • H – high end quad-core
  • M – mainstream quad-core & dual-core laptops and certain desktops
  • U – ultrabooks
  • Y – tablets and detachable hybrids

Thus, a processor you see that has the description, “i5-4200U” would be a 4th generation processor, therefore a Haswell, and would be used in an Ultrabook. And while we’re on the subject of Ultrabooks, here’s a bombshell, but with a nice blast. With this 4th generation rollout, Intel is now giving the Ultrabook category a new mandate: in order to be classified as an Ultrabook, the machine must have a touch screen. 

With the decline in laptop sales because of the tablets and their lower price points, it is clear that Intel has “sweetened the pot” so to speak, by offering a tablet alternative; a touch-screen Ultrabook with features found in a tablet. Not only that, but with the energy saving/enhanced battery life being a norm with this processor, it will in fact eventually find its way into the tablet market. Intel has earmarked the Haswell processor for more types of PCs than any previous generation. From the tablet to the laptop to the desktop with high-end graphics, this Haswell 4th generation processor truly does make this Core i family distinguished. For additional information on the Hawell 4th generation processor you can view it at here.

 

Laptop or Tablet: The Ultimate Decision

Within the last few years the PC industry has experienced a new phenomenon, the Tablet PC. The tablet is quickly emerging as a strong niche in the PC industry, and the functionality of it is being defined as users discover the strengths and weaknesses of its computing sessions, as well as the unique human touch interaction that defines so much of its appeal and unique interactive qualities. We're going to examine the ultimate question: should you put out the bucks for one or stick with the traditional laptop instead. To answer that question, we need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms. Let's start by considering the interaction with these devices.

Tablet Considerations

There are some tablet considerations you should think about. Do you use programs that require input; perhaps a considerable amount of input? If so,the tablet may not be for you. It uses a touch interface and point and click for inputing information. Although tablets usually have a virtual keyboard, similar to many stylus-operated SmartPhones, using one is clumsy at best, and limits your input speed. You can get around this issue by obtaining a bluetooth keyboard, but this would be an additional cost and another item to be carried and accounted for if you travel often.

Laptop Constraints

If lugging around something continually is a hassle, the tablet choice would certainly be a consideration. Tablets weigh under two pounds and are about the size of a small paper tablet, thus contributing to its genre name. A keyboard/trackpad addition is the primary reason for the size differential. Additional laptop constraints also include a higher power requirement, which generates more heat, so a means of cooling is necessary as well. This equates to a larger battery/power supply and the addition of a cooling fan, increasing its size and weight.

Ultrabook vs Netbook

However, with that said, there are two alternative genre of laptops: the netbook and ultrabook. They are for customers who want a smaller dimensioned device, but their computing needs are not successfully met with a tablet. They are a viable option if you're in this category, but be prepared to spend more money for the ultrabook, ranging from $700 to well over $1000. The ultrabook size isn't necessarily smaller than a regular laptop, with screen sizes ranging from 11 to 15 inch. It's their weight that makes them unique, about three pounds, accenting their portability. The netbook costs less than a regular laptop, roughly $200 to $300, but has a smaller hard drive, and the screen is smaller than the average laptop, averaging about 10 inches. Ultrabooks and netbooks don't have a DVD/CD in them, but will take a thumb drive; for portable data usage. The ultrabook uses the more expensive solid-state drives because of their smaller size, but because of the cost, they can be smaller in capacity than the traditional mechanical drives still used by the netbook and most laptops. Since the engineering costs of manufacturing a smaller laptop are significant, the more expensive ultrabook cost is passed on to the consumer.

Battery Life

The one strong suit of the tablet is its power requirements. Since a tablet's hardware is much less sophisticated than a laptop, the power requirement is small and the battery can last as long as 10 hours before needing a recharge. Contrast that time with a standard laptop battery, with a charge life of two to three hours, and you can see the clear winner.

Storage Capacity

In order to keep the size of a tablet small, solid-state drives (SSD) are used in capacities of 16 to 64GB, in lieu of the traditional mechanical type of drive still used in laptops and netbooks. This will undoubtedly increase as SSD costs drop. Compare that capacity to a traditional hard drive on a laptop, which hold several hundreds of gigabytes. Even a netbook will have more hard drive storage space. However, using the cloud for storage is available and would certainly supplement the needs of a tablet. Keep in mind that for backing up data, connecting the tablet to a PC is necessary.

Applications

If you're using the tablet for email, internet, low-requirement audio or video, these applications would be as acceptable as they are on a laptop. When you start getting into applications that require heavy processing such as 3-D games, intensive graphics, or just multitasking, you run into problems, and would have to opt for the laptop's superior hardware. There are scaled-down versions of regular programs that can be used, but remember that the lack of data inputing combined with limited hardware capability will significantly impact what type of programs you will be able to use for a tablet.

Tablet and Laptop Cost

Although many low-end laptops and netbooks are available for the same price as tablet, the average-priced laptop is still at about $650, taking it out of the price range of the average priced tablet, which is about $450. Keep in mind that for that $200 category price difference, you have the full functioning capability of a PC by going with a laptop.

All things considered, at this point in time with tablet technology, there is really only one logical choice if you don't already have a desktop or laptop PC. If you do in fact already have a PC, there are some good tablets out there; some of them are available for as little as $199, with excellent value. Remember though, that since a tablet is used mostly for web usage and entertainment purposes, right now it is really more of a luxury than a necessity. As time goes by, this tablet scenario will certainly change, as with all new technologies, but for now, in these tough economic times, your association with a tablet may really be best limited to the paper variety you touch with a pen instead of the silicon type you touch with your finger.