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Broadwell is here: Intel officially launches 5th Generation Core processors

Tom Morgan
5 Jan 2015
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Broadwell officially arrives at CES 2015, with 14 new CPUs for home and business

Intel has used the CES 2015 show in Las Vegas to officially herald the arrival of its 5th Generation Core processor architecture, otherwise known as Broadwell. 5th Generation Core is arriving today as a line-up of 14 new processors for home and business users, split across 15w models with Intel HD graphics and 28w models with Iris graphics.

First teased back at IDF in 2013, Broadwell is the first Intel Core processor to be manufacturered on a 14nm process. The entire range consists of dual-core, four-thread CPUs ranging from 1.5GHz to 3.1GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.4GHz. The 15w range includes the Core i7 5650U, 5600U, 5550U and 5500U, Core i5-5350U, 5300U, 5250U and 5200U, Core i3-5010U and 5005U, Pentium 3805U, and the Celeron 3755U and 3205U. The more powerful 28w range consists of the Core i7-5557U, Core i5-5287U and 5257U, and Core i3-5157U. The U designation indicates ultra-low voltage, meaning they will be best suited to Ultrabook laptops, hybrid devices and even high-end tablets.

Compared to the outgoing 4th Generation Core CPUs, 5th Gen Core has 35% more transistors (1.3billion versus 0.96bn) and a 37% smaller die size (82mm2 vs 131mm2). These changes, along with a multitude of under the hood improvements and optimisations, have led to a 90 minute boost to battery life in portable devices when watching Full HD video, a 22% increase to frame rates in games and up to 50% faster video conversion rates.

HD Graphics 5500, HD Graphics 6000 and Iris Graphics 6100 all represent a jump in GPU performance for Intel chips, gaining support for DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 2.0 and compatibility with DirectX 12 when it arrives. Able to connect to 4K Ultra HD displays at 3,840x2,160, either wired or wirelessly, with improved support for HEVC video decoding, both games and multimedia playback will benefit from the upgrade.

Broadwell is also bringing improvements to connectivity and user interaction as well as performance boosts. WiDi, Intel's proprietary wireless display technology, has been optimised for 5th Generation Core, with support for full screen DirectX 9 or DirectX 11 games, user privacy controls for business and support for 4K resolutions. The Actiontec Mini2 HDMI adapter will let you add WiDi support to any HDMI-equipped display, and should only set you back $39.99 (roughly £30 here in the UK).

RealSense technology will use integrated cameras to "see" in 3D, scanning objects for editing and 3D printing, separate objects from backgrounds in real time for creating green screen effects in videos without actually having a green screen, and control objects in 3D space with gestures, hand movements or facial expressions. We have yet to put these bold claims to the test to see how they perform in real life, but if they work smoothly it could certainly be a useful tool for designers and 3D graphics professionals, as well as those with disabilities.

Voice Assistant is the other big addition, which appears to let you control your PC with natural language voice phrases. You'll be able to use it for dictation, searching the web, control basic PC functions, and integrate with iTunes, Spotify and Facebook, either online or offline. At launch Voice Assistant will support 6 languages, with four more due to be added later in the year.

The January Broadwell line-up will be primarily focused on laptops, Ultrabooks, 2-in-1 hybrids, low-power all-in-one PCs and premium tablets, so don't expect any multiplier-unlocked K-series chips like the Haswell Core i5-4670k just yet. Intel expects sub-45w processors to launch for high-powered laptops and desktop PCs in mid-2015, which would make it one of the fastest rollouts for a new processor generation throughout the lifetime of the Core architecture. Intel has also suggested the first 5th Generation Core processors will appear in Chromebooks before the Summer too, although we'll have to wait for the manufacturers themselves to make any announcements. 

We're still waiting for the first 5th Generation Core-powered devices to arrive in our labs for testing, but Intel expects laptops, hybrids and all-in-one PCs to begin shipping in the coming weeks and months. As soon as we're able to put Broadwell's performance under the microscope, we'll be sure to bring you all the details.

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