Intel used the backdrop of the Game Developers Conference currently taking place in San Francisco to make a handful of interesting announcements that run the gamut from low-power technologies to ultra-high-end desktop chips. In addition to outing a number of upcoming processors—from an Anniversary Edition Pentium to a monster 8-core Haswell-E—Intel also announced a new technology dubbed Ready Mode.
Intel described Ready Mode as a “capability that takes advantage of new power-saving states in Intel’s 4th gen Core desktop processor, combined with software and board level optimizations, which enable OEM desktop computers that are instantly ready and always connected while sipping power”.
Ready Mode essentially allows a 4th Gen Core processor (and presumably newer chips, which are slated to arrive later in the year), to enter a low C7 power state, while the OS and other system components remain connected and ready for action. Intel demoed the technology, and along with compatible third party applications and utilities, showed how Ready Mode can allow a mobile device to automatically sync to a PC to download and store photos. The PC could also remain in a low power state and stream media, server up files remotely, or receive VOIP calls. Ready Mode will be supported by a number of Intel’s system partners in a variety of all-in-one type systems a little later in the year.
In a move that’s sure to get the enthusiasts among you in excited, Intel also revealed a couple of details regarding Haswell-E. Like Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E, Haswell-E is the more “extreme” variant of the company’s Haswell microarchitecture. Haswell-E Core i7-based processors will be outfitted with up to eight processor cores, which will remain largely unchanged from current Haswell-based chips. Haswell-E, however, will connect up to high-speed DDR4 memory and be paired to the upcoming Intel X99 chipset. Other details were scarce, but you can bet that Haswell-E will be Intel’s fastest desktop processor to date when it arrives sometime in the second half of 2014.
A few months back, rumors had circulated stating that Broadwell wouldn’t be released in socketed form, and that Broadwell-based processors would be reserved only for notebooks, small form factor, or all-in-one systems. If you’re unfamiliar with Broadwell, it’s the 14nm shrink of Haswell; a Tick in Intel’s “Tick, Tock” release cadence. Other than to say the processors will be built using Intel’s advanced 14nm process and that they’ll be the first desktop processor to feature Iris Pro graphics, Intel didn't go into much more detail. Though Intel VP Lisa Graff did confirm the chips will be called 5th Gen Core processors and that they’ll be supported by the company’s 9-series chipsets.
In another interesting move, Intel also announced that some newer desktop processors based on the existing Haswell micro-architecture were in the works. The processors are codenamed “Devil’s Canyon” and they resolve some overclocking related issues that were introduced into Intel’s line-up with Ivy Bridge. If you recall, Intel started using a lower-performing thermal interface material between Ivy Bridge chips and their integrated heat spreaders, which resulted in higher temperatures under load that could hinder overclocking. Devil’s Canyon processors, which will also be unlocked like current K-SKUs, use an improved thermal interface material and updated packaging materials (and we assume some aggressive binning), to address all of the overclocking-related concerns. The processors will arrive mid-year according to Intel and will work with upcoming motherboards based on the Intel 9 Series chipsets.
Finally, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Pentium brand, Intel will also be releasing a “Pentium Anniversary Edition” processor sometime mid-year. The Pentium Anniversary Edition will be available in an unlocked version and will support Intel’s Quick Sync Video technology. The processor will be supported by both Intel 8 and 9 series chipsets, but not much is known just yet.
We’ll know more about all of these products as we get closer to their official release dates, but one thing seems clear right now—Intel remains committed to desktop PCs and enthusiasts will have plenty of new products to play with in the coming months.
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