As technology becomes more and more advanced, the lines between Ultrabooks and tablets are blurring. Intel, one of the most popular chip manufacturers, is working on cutting power consumption of its chips so tablets can run as fast and efficiently as Ultrabooks.
Intel is planning a “significant” cut in power consumption for the current Ivy Bridge chip, which is used in the Macbook Air and Windows Ultrabooks. As of now, Ivy Bridge is the most power-efficient chip today and is rated at 17 watts. Updated versions will be rated “well below this,” according to a source who spoke to CNET. Apparently, they could be as low as 10 watts, which would be a 41 percent decrease.
With the updated Ivy Bridge chips, PC manufacturers could hypothetically use the chips in tablets, including iPads and Microsoft’s Surface. In fact, Microsoft already uses Ivy Bridge chips in it’s Surface Pro tablet.
Why is this such a big deal? According to CNET, most 10- and 11-inch Windows 8 tablets use Intel’s Z2760 “system-on-a-chip.” But, the Z2760 doesn’t compare to the performance of the Ivy Bridge. Usually, the lower wattage means a longer battery life and a thinner product. Current tablets are based on an ARM design that allows tablets to be as thin as 0.3 inches and weigh less than a pound, and offer a battery life that lasts all day, or longer.
While the Intel “x86” chips aren’t as efficient as the ARM processor, they are a lot more powerful. Because of this, Microsoft created two Surface tablets, the RT and the Pro. The Pro has much better performance, and is equipped with Ivy Bridge chips. The problem with the Pro is that it only has half of the battery life of the Surface RT, according to reports. A potential Ivy Bridge update could rectify that problem.
Intel has already said that it was planning on cutting power consumption on future chips and said that the next generation would be codenamed Haswell and would be as low as 10 watts. While we don’t know when the release date of these chips, don’t expect any new chips this year.
As manufactures are focusing more on mobile devices, like tablets, as opposed to computers, a chip that works for both tablets and computers could be huge for Intel and a huge seller for manufactures. A longer batter life, faster processing, and a thinner chip means our tablets could be replacing our computers sooner than we thought.