Mobile Computing

Intel unveils first 14nm processor aimed at mobile computing devices

Archana Venkatraman

Chipmaker Intel is developing its first processor based on 14nm micro-architecture that will be “thinner and run silent and cool” to power tablet PCs and thin laptops.

The Core M processors will first be available towards the end of 2014, before becoming broadly available in early 2015. The company’s micro-architecture marks its race to address the low-power computing needs of the growing mobile device market.

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In addition to the Core M processors, Intel plans to add further products based on the 14nm architecture, codenamed Broadwell. The Broadwell chips are designed to run faster and more efficiently than the first processors in Intel’s Haswell line of micro-architecture processors. 

The chip designers have packed Haswell-like performance in the Core M processors which offer longer battery life, are 30% more energy-efficient and do not need a fan to run.

“Intel’s 14nm technology uses second-generation tri-gate transistors to deliver industry-leading performance, power, density and cost per transistor,” said Mark Bohr, Intel senior fellow, technology and manufacturing group. “Intel’s investments and commitment to Moore’s law is at the heart of what it has been able to accomplish with this new process.”

Core M, currently under mass production, comes several months later than Intel originally intended. In October 2013, the chipmaker admitted that the production of its next-generation Broadwell chip would be delayed by a quarter. At that time, chief executive Brian Krzanich said the delay was due to a technical glitch, dismissing it as “a small blip” in the schedule.

The systems will provide high-performance and low-power capabilities to serve a broad array of computing needs and products, ranging from cloud-based infrastructure and the internet of things, to personal and mobile computing. 

The new micro-architecture will lead to new form factors, experiences and systems that are thinner and run silent and cool, according to Intel.

From a user perspective, it means the thickness of devices powered by the new chip will reduce from 26mm (in 2010) to 7.2mm (2014 with Broadwell), said Rani Borkar, Intel vice-president and general manager of product development.

“Intel’s integrated model – the combination of our design expertise with the best manufacturing process – makes it possible to deliver better performance and lower power to our customers and to consumers,” said Borkar.

“This new micro-architecture demonstrates the importance of our outside-in design philosophy that matches our design to customer requirements.”

Broadwell was first unveiled by Intel at its 2013 Developers Forum (IDF 2013). At that time, Krzanich said: “Our strategy is very simple. We want to lead in every segment of computing – servers, PCs, tablets, phones and beyond."

Just last week, Intel told Computer Weekly that it is watching closely its "biggest competitor", the semi-conductor firm ARM, which holds almost 95% of the burgeoning smartphone segment.

More details about the Core M processor including its performance, speed or pricing, will be shared nearer the time of the release, Intel said.


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