Intel announced a few new details about its Core M chip on Monday, which is manufactured using a 14 nanometer process. Intel said the first devices using these chips will be on sale in the United States by the holidays.
Last time we heard about these 14nm chips — based on the Broadwell design — they were in a skinny, fanless tablet meant as an Intel reference design. The Intel Core M is targeted at tablets and other mobile devices, but will also most likely end up in laptops, like certain MacBook models. Unlike ARM-based chips, the Core M can run a full version of Windows or OS X, but whether Intel can convince mobile hardware makers these chips offer the same advantages in power usage and heat remains to be seen.
The biggest advance these chips represent is that they are manufactured with circuitry measured at 14nm. The current generation of chips, which is codenamed Haswell, is manufactured with a 22nm process. The die shrink allows Intel to pack more transistors on a chip, which leads to a decrease in active power consumption. The Broadwell chips are also using the second version of Intel’s proprietary Tri-gate transistors. According to Intel, Broadwell-based chips like the Core M could offer twice the speed for general computing and seven times the performance in graphics, on top of a reduction in power usage. More powerful tablets with longer battery life is an appealing proposition.
These Broadwell processors are almost a year late, according to Intel’s own tick-tock processor roadmap. Since the last major architecture (Ivy Bridge) came out in 2012, Broadwell was supposed to make it to devices in early 2014, which would have meant Intel needed to start fabricating Broadwell chips in high volume by the end of 2013. While that self-imposed deadline has passed, most likely due to low yields from the new 14nm process, devices using the Core M are still on track to be available in late 2014, with more products sporting the silicon by early next year.