Intel unveiled details about a whole raft of upcoming chips this week… but not very many details. In a 45 minute press conference on Monday, Intel breezed through slide after slide in a presentation meant to pack a few tidbits about a lot of products.

Or maybe the goal was to gloss over some of the company’s less spectacular achievements. For instance, those new 7 watt Ivy Bridge chips the company said would be hitting the streets soon? They’re actually more like 13W chips.

Low Power Ivy Bridge

Ars Technica did a bit of digging and noticed that the 7W figure Intel cited is for a brand new spec called “scenario design power,” or SDP. It’s meant to measure power consumption during average use.

That sounds pretty good — but Intel is comparing the new chip’s SDP to the TDP of older chips. TDP stands for thermal Design Power, and lets us know how much power a chip uses when it’s running at full speed.

Since Intel doesn’t provide SDP ratings for older chips, the best way to compare the new lower power Ivy Bridge processors with their predecessors is probably looking at TDP — and in this case, what we see isn’t a drop from 17W to 7W. It’s a drop from 17W to 13W.

That’s certainly not a bad thing… especially since we’re still talking about Ivy Bridge processors here. By the time 4th generation Core (Haswell) chips are read to roll off the assembly line, Intel will have had time to further lower power consumption while improving performance.

But reducing the TDP by 4 watts isn’t the same thing as cutting it by more than half.

We’ll probably see better battery life from systems with the new processors, but the improvements might not be all that dramatic.

In the meantime, in order to reduce power consumption, Intel chose to reduce the top CPU and GPU speeds in its new chips, which means they won’t be quite as fast as their 17W peers. That’s hardly shocking, but as Ars Technica points out, if you compare the specs for the new 13W Intel Core i5-3339Y and the 17W Core i5-3317U which has proven popular with ultrabook makers, you can now see exacly how much performance Intel is trimming.

The new chip has a clock speed of 1.5 GHz and a top Turbo speed of 2 GHz, compared with 1.7 GHz and 2.6 GHz for the older processor. The max graphics processor speed also now tops out at 850 MHz instead of 1050 MHz.

Intel does have at least one Ivy Bridge chip that will have a TDP of 10W, but it’s the lower performance Pentium 2129, which also has a 1.1 GHz clock speed and no support for hyperthreading.

Lenovo is one of the first companies to unveil a device featuring the new Core i5-3339Y processor, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S isn’t expected to launch until June. By then we may see a number of other ultrabooks and tablets powered by the new chip.

via The Verge

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13 replies on “Intel’s new low power Ivy Bridge chips are more like 13W processors than 7W”

  1. Brad, see x-bits labs they have the correct 2013 roadmap for AMD…short story is that they are going to be very active especially on the low power/ mobile device front! This is going to be great for we can forget about ATOM “performance“ and look forward to decent ulv performance in lower priced devices than if INTEL had the game wrapped up!

  2. If SDP really is the measurement of the “power consumption during average use” then I like that Intel is giving this number.

    TDP is useful to manufacturers when designing the thermal dissipation of a device not battery capacities. There isn’t a way to directly calculate the max power consumption of the chip from TDP. At least with SDP, we can compare how battery life will be affected from chip to chip and generation to generation.

    Of course, Intel should have made it clear that the 7 W was SDP and not TDP. I’m guessing they did mention it but no one was listening. Besides this: shows the 7 W SDP. The footnote in the image seems to imply that SDP is more related to thermal dissipation rather than power consumption. I hope not.

    1. Huh… I should have noticed that. But KT wrote that article while I was on jury duty that week, and clearly I should have done more than skimming what she wrote. 🙂

    2. I really hope SDP refers to power consumption and not heat genereated. Why do chip makers not give out power consumption values?

  3. The low power wars are on, AMD is fielding a pretty solid line-up for 2013 spread across 2 very different platforms: Richland & Kabini/temash with overlapping TDP’s in the low voltage space of 25 watts and 17/15 watts as well as The ULV space at 9/5 watts some fan-less. INTEL is pushing Ivy Bridge as well as Haswell parts in that space not to mention the ATOM which is badly outclassed By all of the above! These will be joined by ARM’S AR-15 by various partners…Brad I think the topic deserves more coverage! By the way the roadmap slide you used on a previous story on AMD is the wrong one, a updated version making there plans for 2013 clearer is available.

  4. This is a very annoying trick Intel has used. They should have clearly communicated that they were not talking about TDP.

    The Exynos5 dual in my ChromeBook has an average consumption of ~2W. Granted, the Core processor will be faster but a 7W average consumption for just the SOC will still need some very powerful batteries.

      1. “unethical”: lol, intel always played with they own rules, anyway they have been accused of bribery and coercion so many times already, “ethic” doesn’t come to mind, hence the “annoying trick”

  5. Man, that’s sad when you have to clock stuff down to hit your numbers.

    1. that has always been the case for any semiconductor product that runs off a clock

      you set a target power, then you bin and clock down to meet it.

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