Bits and pieces of info about Intel's brand new 4th generation processors have been dripping out for months now. Good graphics, crazy battery life. Exciting stuff. Finally, though, we've got a full view of guts that'll power most of next year's computers, and they'll be available starting June 4th. The future looks very, very bright.
To put these chips—previously known as Haswell—in their proper perspective, remember that Intel has what it calls a tick-tock system when it comes to processor upgrades. The tick is a smaller, incremental upgrade where things get shrunk down and tuned up. The tock is where the big changes get made. This is the tock.
At a glance, the 4th gen chips don't appear wildly different from their predecessors. While the chips have grown just slightly in size, from 160nm^2 to 177nm^2, they're built on the same 22nm process. So why slightly bigger? To accommodate the biggest graphics on-die space Intel's ever had.
And that's just for starters. Here's the full rundown of what these bad boys can do.
Bigger, better battery life
What's maybe most exciting about Intel's 4th generation cores is the leap ahead in battery life. It's the biggest in Intel's history. The gains come from a few different places. For starters, the 4th gen chips pull less power than their predecessors for CPU tasks, but they've also got some sophisticated sleep states and panel refreshing are able to cut back on power used by the rest of the system as well.
When it comes to practical applications, that means that you'll be getting 9 hours of HD video playback where you used to get only 6, and similar increases when you're just using your device for light-use things like browsing the web, or working in a word processor. The really huge jump is for standby time though. With previous-gen Ivy Bridge cores, you'd be lucky to get four or five days of standby life on a full charge. With a 4th gen core, Intel's promising a number more like 10 or even 13. And this is all with no better batteries required; the gains are purely from more efficient performance.
To explain it simply, devices running on 4th gen chips will be able to sleep way more often than what you've got right now. Essentially, Haswell's introducing a new kind of sleep state that marries all the power saving qualities of an actual, non-responsive sleep state with being totally awake. So now, when you close the lid (or turn off the display), your device can take a power nap, but still be damn quick waking back up. And those little naps count for a lot.
Integrated graphics that are actually awesome
Intel had already let slip some of the details about its sweet new integrated graphics brand a few weeks ago. In sort, Intel's Iris graphics are able to hold their own in a way they never have before, running stuff like Bioshock Infinite at playable speeds with moderate settings. Granted, there's still nothing quite like have discrete graphics in your laptop, but these 4th gen cores do built-in damn well.