Intel accused of releasing misleading figures for its new Ivy Bridge microprocessors
By Graeme Burton
11 Jan 2013
Intel has been accused of releasing misleading power consumption and performance figures for its new line of Ivy Bridge microprocessors, which are intended to bridge the gap between high-performance desktop and laptop microprocessors, and the microprocessors used in more power-efficient mobile devices.
The Y-Series Ivy Bridge range was formally released at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. Intel claims that it offers power consumption of just seven watts - still much higher than competing microprocessors designed by ARM, but considerably more efficient than past Intel microprocessor lines.
The current line of Ivy Bridge microprocessors consume 1#$%$ as measured in terms of actual thermal design power metrics, and Intel is claiming that its new Y-Series Ivy Bridge microprocessors has knocked 10 watts off this figure - implying that the company is fast catching up with ARM in terms of power consumption.
However, while claiming clock speeds of up to 2.6 gigahertz (GHz) for its top-of-the-range Core i7 Ivy Bridge microprocessors, the lower power consumption can only be achieved by considerably stepping down the clock speeds of these parts and using a different metric.
Its entry-level Pentium 2129Y microprocessor boasts a clock speed of just 1.1GHz and lacks hyper-threading and a "turbo mode". It can achieve power consumption of 10 watts in thermal design power, but #$%$ in Intel's new metric - "scenario design power", which Intel claims is a real-world measure of the average power the microprocessor will consume in ordinary usage.
On a like-for-like basis, the Y-Series Ivy Bridge parts boast power consumption of 13 watts in thermal design power, just four watts more efficient than the current Ivy Bridge range.
An in-depth examination by tech' site ArsTechnica concluded: "Intel has saved power in its new Y-series CPUs in the least surprising way possible - not through improvements to the 22 nanometre manufacturing process or aggressive processor binning, but through clock speed reductions and some fancy marketing footwork."
Intel's claims are significant because it is facing growing pressure from mobile devices - both tablet computers and smartphones - while demand for desktop PCs and laptops is falling, according to figures for the fourth quarter of 2012.
One of the driving forces behind the sale of tablet computers and smartphones is price, partly due to the use of non-wintel hardware and software. ARM-based microprocessors will typically sell for less than one-tenth of the average price of an Intel i-series microprocessor, while the Android operating system is free.
Since Intel and ArsTechnica explains the power savings method in such detail, how is it misleading? And what does it matter how Intel achieves the power savings if the chip still performs better than its competition, delivers full W8 and support for legacy Windows software and gets great battery life?
Reducing clock speed of a CPU is no more nefarious than reducing one's driving speed from 70 MPH to 60 MPH to get better gas mileage.
I can't figure out why Intel did not do this earlier!!!
All Intel did was (it appears) to lower the MAXIMUM DYNAMIC FREQUENCY SCALING on the part. There may be some other testing or such but I doubt it.
It is just a new Intel CPU SKU that is guaranteed to operate at 5W.
It is pretty funny that the ARM advocates think this is such a big problem other than Intel has a CPU that can be operated within a 5W envelop.
"Dynamic frequency scaling (also known as CPU throttling) is a technique in computer architecture whereby the frequency of a microprocessor can be automatically adjusted "on the fly," either to conserve power or to reduce the amount of heat generated by the chip. Dynamic frequency scaling is commonly used in laptops and other mobile devices, where energy comes from a battery and thus is limited. It is also used in quiet computing settings and to decrease energy and cooling costs for lightly loaded machines. Less heat output, in turn, allows the system cooling fans to be throttled down or turned off, reducing noise levels and further decreasing power consumption. It is also used for reducing heat in insufficiently cooled systems when the temperature reaches a certain threshold, such as in poorly cooled overclocked systems."