Intel launches Broadwell U: 5th gen Intel Core Processor family featuring improved graphics

Intel has announced its 5th gen core processor family targetted at laptops and 2-in-1s


It is that time of the year, when Intel refreshes its processor line-up. With the CES underway, Intel has announced the mobile fifth generation Intel Core processor family. Since the 5th gen comprises the 14nm processor die (shrunk from Haswell's 22nm), it represents the 'tick' in Intel's tick-tock cadence, where the 'tock' represents a change in the micro-architecture. Intel's 5th gen Core Processor family will be code named Broadwell.

The 5th gen Intel Core Processor family will have 10 new 15W processors with Intel HD graphics and 4 new 28W processors with Intel Iris graphics - which is a lot more powerful than HD graphics. Apart from the Core family, there will also be the Intel Pentium and Celeron family of processors for the entry level users.

Intel launches Broadwell U: 5th gen Intel Core Processor family featuring improved graphics

All the mobile chips in the 5th gen family are dual-core hyper-threaded. (Please click on the chart for a magnified view)

With the 5th gen, Intel plans to support a lot more natural gestures and immersive experiences using 3D cameras, voice recognition, password-less login and more.

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A quick look at the 5th gen processor die map reveals a larger space alloted for the processor graphics along side two processor cores. It makes use of a shared L3 cache which is shared among the computing as well as graphics cores thereby employing heterogenous system architecture. Using a common cache for CPU and GPU helps make task execution faster, as it bypasses the time it would have taken two separate cache memory modules to share data between them. It has a transistor count of around 1.9 billion transistors which is up from the 4th gen's count of 1.3 billion transistors. Even the die area has come down from 181 square millimetre to 133 square millimetre.

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Intel has improved the integrated graphics - Intel HD 5500, Intel HD 6000 and Intel Iris Graphics 6000. The internal graphics is now capable of 4K UltraHD content viewing as well as streaming over Wireless Display, an enhanced codec for media decoding, DirectX 12 ready and so on. Intel claims that popular games give an almost 20 per cent boost in frame rates as compared to 4th gen equivalent processors.

Integrating natural gestures so that you get an immersive experience has been an area Intel has been working on for quite some time. With the Intel 5th gen core processors, it is aiming to make natural interactions using voice, 3D cameras and using wireless displays a more mainstream thing. Intel RealSense is a camera technology which employs a regular 2D camera and a depth sensor - integrated into one single body. This allows one to scan, share and capture objects in three dimensions. Even playing games, using no controllers other than hand and finger gestures, is a reality as the 3D depth sensor locates your position in space and can respond accordingly. Following are some of the things Intel plans to integrate with the Voice Assistant.

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According to Intel, the PC market landscape is on a rising curve, this includes desktop as well as laptops/ultrabooks/2-in-1s/AIO units as well and Intel feels that for those with a PC over 4 years old, the time is right to refresh their PCs. In order to attract more buyers, Intel has over 80 design wins from various PC makers. Intel is betting on multiple form factors in which to house its processors. So apart from a regular laptop, you will see the 5th gen processors in 2-in-1s, touchscreen notebooks, ultra-thin notebooks, AIOs as well as small box-shaped mini-desktops. Apart from this, Intel is also aiming to get incorporated into Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

Comparing a 2010 notebook model to 2015 model with an Intel 5th gen Core processor, you will get advantages such as touch screen and voice assistance; edge to edge displays, 15mm thin laptops (the thinnest in 2010 was around 28mm thin); more than 10 hours battery life (as compared to around 4 hours in 2010) and using SSD storage along with 802.11ac Wi-fi.

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Seen in this chart are the Core i3, Celeron and Pentium parts. These chips will not support Turbo Boost, which dynamically raises CPU frequency based on load

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This chart contains the 28W parts which will be seen in the higher end laptops, 2-in-1s, ultrabooks and so on (Please click on the chart for a magnified view)

Seen above are the various processor SKUs for the 5th gen Intel Core processor family. PCs and laptops with these processors will start entering the market from February onwards.

Intel has also come out with a Wireless-AC 7265 which is a 2nd generation 802.11ac wireless. This is expected to give 15% better throughput, will come in a new M.2 1216 form factor. The AC 7265 is also expected to offer a better power efficiency.

Devices with Intel 5th gen processors will start making their way in the market from mid-January onwards. Along with the Core M processor line up, Intel plans to capture the entire spectrum of laptops going from the high-end workstations to gaming laptops down to fanless small-screen 2-in-1s or ultra-thin notebooks.