In the quest for lighter laptops with longer battery life and innovative form factors, the processor plays an integral part as to what is physically possible. The more heat a processor generates, the more physical space required to dissipating that heat. A power hungry processor requires a larger battery, further consuming more chassis capacity. Space is at such a premium in modern portable devices, that even the size of the processor chip itself makes a difference.
Intel’s latest low power processor range, dubbed Core M, enables computer manufacturers to build the sleek and portable machines we are starting to take for granted. Utilizing a cutting edge 14nm fabrication process, Intel has reduced the thermal design point (TDP) by 60%, made the chip itself 50% smaller and reduced power consumption significantly compared to the last generation of low power Core processors. With a TDP of only 4.5W, it’s suitable for the tiniest of applications – from compute sticks to lightweight tablets, 2-in-1 laptop/tablets and traditional ultrabooks.
The Atom range of processors has taken care of Intel’s low power processor needs. But Intel has managed to bring the popular and more powerful Core architecture to the low power segment, delivering with it all the benefits of the Core architecture that Atom lacks, such as a larger cache, larger maximum supported memory, superior integrated graphics, PCIe 3.0 with more lanes, Hyper Threading, vPro, VT-x & VT-d support plus all the enterprise hardware security features available on much higher end processors. Despite the Core M’s TDP is low, it is still full featured x86 CPU.
Even high end multimedia processor features such as Intel’s Wireless Display for displaying monitor output on a TV or projector without cables, Wake on Voice for the ability to use your voice to unlock your computer and Quick Sync Video for fast background video encoding are part of the Core M range. Enterprise features like Intel’s Secure Key random number generator, Small Business Advantage and OS Guard are built in to all Core M processors, ensuring that even enterprise users can enjoy various form factors without sacrificing the mandatory features their environment requires
Some of the largest computer manufacturers have released new machines taking advantage of the Core M’s low power consumption and small package.
Microsoft’s popular Surface Pro line up now includes the Core m3 CPU in its new Surface Pro 4. The Surface Pro 4 is really a device that can replace your desktop, laptop and tablet. Thanks to the Core m3’s x86 compatibility, you get a full Windows experience in whatever mode you like, whilst still enjoying low power consumption for long battery life and great performance for the majority of tasks.
HP have also utilised the latest generation of Core M CPUs to create the Spectre X2, a 2-in-1 tablet and laptop. Whilst similar to the Surface Pro 4, there is a greater selection of CPUs, including the m5 6Y54 and m7 6Y75 – great options for when you need a bit more power than what the m3 on the Surface Pro 4 delivers, but still want the same battery life.
For a more traditional laptop experience, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 has a choice of Core m5 processors in an ultrabook form factor. With no moving parts and an aluminum and magnesium alloy chassis, it’s designed to pass MIL-STD810G tests for not falling to pieces when dropped, shocked or subjected to intense vibration.
Intel has managed to do what many not thought possible – bring a x86 platform processor down to a TDP of 4.5W, whilst maintaining all the features and performance you expect from a Core processor. Thanks to this, we can now enjoy thin and light laptops and tablets that have oodles of battery life together with a CPU that can handle the vast majority of tasks thrown at it.