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Intel plans to revive PC with Core M processor

09 Sep 2014  | R. Colin Johnson

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Intel also claims its research shows that people are not just replacing their laptops with 2-in-1s, but are buying them because they want their tablet features. Regis also claimed tablet buyers—and hopefully 2-in-1 buyers—are refreshing their systems every year or two, which Intel hopes will reduce their declining processor sales due to slowing traditional PC sales, turning it around—as Doherty mentioned—into a steep sloped upswing again.

Now with the Generation 5 Core M processors, Intel is trying to squeeze its ultrabook calibre of performance into the smaller form factor of a 2-in-1, bridging the gap between the premium-tablets and -laptops market all in one light-weight, low-power unit.

Regis claimed the average 2-in-1 consumes 4.5W if the thickness is about 8mm and the screen size under 12in. In comparison, a more expensive 7mm thick 2-in-1 system would consume only 3.5W at 12in and 4W at 13in. And a cheaper 10mm thick 2-in-1 will consume 5W at 12in and under 6W for a 13.3in screen.

 Core M

The Core M is a dual-core processor with integrated graphics and all peripherals on a single SoC. (Source: Intel)

Matt Dunford, manager of Intel Performance Benchmarking Group added that the Core M, which will almost exclusively be used in 2-in-1s, delivers "2.1-to-7.6 times the power, depending on the task, for a quarter of the power, 4.5W for 2-in-1s compared to 18W for laptops."

Mobile Platform Manager, Andy Cummins, added that "besides just performance, people make their decisions to buy on other factors too, for instance, moving from a clamshell to a 2-in-1 form factor allows the display part to be disconnected into a 9.6mm thick tablet compared to a 28mm thick clamshell, and weights 1.75lbs compared to 3lbs for the clamshell... you also move from HDD [hard-disc drive] to a SSD [solid state drive], a faster wireless LAN and faster I/O with USB3."

The conference call speakers then summed up with a laundry list of features for the new Core M: a performance advantage over [ARM], tablets as thin as 7mm, minimum weights just over 1lb. In addition, 2-in-1s that snap together with their keyboard (or use a wireless connection) are at least 50 per cent faster overall with 40 per cent faster graphics overall using Core M, have 1.7 times longer battery life for video playback, faster lower-power wireless LANs, wireless displays, wireless docking with WiGig, plus the Vpro option for enterprises looking for maximum security and auto-updating.

Core M on a mini PCB

Intel packages the Core M on a mini printed circuit board with a smaller control hub chip for USB and IO. (Source: Intel)

The Core M chip itself has 300 million more transistors on a 40 per cent smaller size die and supports the new Ultra HD display standard (3,840px by 2,160px at 24fps).

The first availability of Core M powered 2-in-1s will be in time for the holiday season with five systems available, and 20 more in the pipeline for 2015, some targeted at high performance, some at small form factor, and some at longest battery life.

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