Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in May that the company's much-anticipated 14-nanometer "Broadwell" chips would be showing up in PCs and other systems in time for the holiday shopping season. Intel officials said that is about to happen.
At the IFA 2014 show Sept. 5, Intel executives officially launched the Core M processor, announcing that more than 20 new two-in-one systems powered by the highly energy-efficient chip will hit the market starting in the fall, with rollouts continuing into next year.
Intel engineers designed the Core M chip to be small, powerful and efficient enough to enable OEMs to build extremely thin (9mm or less) two-in-ones that are fanless and ultramobile, and offer long battery life. The result was a Broadwell-based chip that offers up to 50 percent more compute performance, 40 percent better graphics and 20 percent better battery life than the previous Intel processors, according to the company.
The 14nm chip comes in a package that is 50 percent smaller and 30 percent thinner than the current "Haswell-Y" processor, and brings 60 percent lower idle power, twice the performance-per-watt and twice the reduction in the thermal design power over the current Haswell-based model. It also features the second generation of the company's 3D Tri-Gate transistor architecture.
Eventually, the 14nm Broadwell architecture will appear in chips for everything from thin PCs to servers.
Intel officials expect the Core M—which was delayed for several months because of a manufacturing issue—to be the foundation of a new wave of two-in-one PCs that will drive a revival of a segment of the tech industry that until only recently was contracting rapidly in the wake of the growing popularity of tablets.
"We've been on a multi-year mission to address end-user requirements and transform mobile computing," Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of personal computing at Intel, said in a statement. "The introduction of Core M marks a significant milestone in that journey."
IDC analysts last month said that PC sales continue to improve after several down years, thanks to such factors as Microsoft's ending support for Windows XP in April, new form factors like two-in-ones (which can be used as a traditional desktop or as a tablet), the growing popularity of Chromebooks and the tablet market saturation. However, the long-term trend is still down, the analysts said.
PC makers are embracing the chip—Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Asus and Toshiba are among the OEMs that are planning to release systems based on the Core M chip. Intel and system-makers will see over the next few months how well consumers respond to the systems.
Some OEMs already have announced two-in-ones at the IFA show that will be powered by the Core M, including Lenovo with its ThinkPad Helix, which will be available next month. HP unveiled two new Envy x2 systems, Dell introduced the Latitude 13 7000 Series, Acer announced the Aspire Switch 12 and Asus rolled out the Zenbook UX305.
In addition, Intel officials also said some white-box makers are planning to use the Core M chip in their offerings. For example, Wistron will create a Broadwell-based two-in-one system that leverages the "Llama Mountain" reference device—which is 7.2mm thin and weighs about 1.4 pounds—that the chip maker introduced at the Computex 2014 show in June.