Broadwell Is Coming: A Look at Intel’s Low-Power Core M and Its 14nm Process
Last week I flew from New Jersey to Portland, Oregon, to get briefed by Intel PR reps and engineers about the company’s next-generation CPUs and the new manufacturing process behind them. It was my first-ever visit to Intel’s campus.
One of its campuses, anyway. I saw several peppered throughout suburban Portland, and that’s not even counting the gargantuan Intel-branded factory construction site I jogged by the next morning, or Intel’s other facilities worldwide. Usually our face-to-face interactions with tech company employees take place on neutral ground—an anonymous hotel room, convention hall, or Manhattan PR office—but two-and-change days on Intel’s home turf really drove home the size of its operation. Its glory may be just a little faded these days, primarily because of a drooping PC market, tablet chips that are actually losing the company money, and a continuing smartphone boom that Intel’s still scrambling to get a piece of, but something like 315 million PCs were sold worldwide in 2013, and the lion’s share still has Intel inside.
That’s what makes Intel’s progress important, and that’s why we’re champing at the bit to get the Broadwell architecture and see Intel’s new 14nm manufacturing process in action. The major industry players—everyone from Microsoft to Dell to Apple—depend on Intel’s progress to refine their own products. The jump between 2012’s Ivy Bridge architecture and 2013’s Haswell architecture wasn’t huge, but for many Ultrabooks it made the difference between a mediocre product and a good one.