Intel Corp., the biggest maker of semiconductors, said its new processors are going to deliver the biggest bump in performance that personal computer users have experienced in years.
The eighth generation of its Core line will provide as much as a 40% jump over its predecessor, according to the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company. That’s a leap in performance that arguably only happens once in a decade, Intel said. New laptops built on the chips will come to market in September.
Intel, whose chips are the heart of more than 80% of the world’s PCs, has been remarkably successful in a market that’s been declining since it peaked in 2011 and is now more than 100 million units smaller than it was. In the second quarter, Intel’s PC chip unit posted a 12% increase in sales even as overall shipments of PCs continued their slide.
Intel’s winning strategy -- one that the new lineup will try to keep going -- has been to persuade consumers that they need to buy up, spending extra on computers with more expensive chips even though they’re not replacing their old PCs as often as they did. The challenge the new Core systems will face is that Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel’s only remaining rival in PC processors, is bringing its own new design to market this year. Chips built on its Zen are able to challenge Intel parts on performance for the first time in years, AMD has said, and they’re cheaper.
The new range of chips from Intel will provide a massive leap forward in performance compared with the 450 million PCs that are currently in use and that are more than five years old, Intel said. In that period, processors have become twice as fast at crunching data and the machines themselves have shrunk to be half as thick as they were. Editing 4K video shot on a GoPro camera might not even be possible on older machines, while with the new chips the time needed to do such tasks will be reduced to single-digit minutes versus tens of minutes on previous generation machines.
Intel said it has achieved the step up in capabilities by adding more computing cores to the chips, typically doubling up to four or eight, a significant step forward for processors used in the smallest laptops. Adding cores helps a computer’s ability to perform multiple tasks in parallel, Intel said.
Research shows that in the U.S. at least, people still spend more time on their laptops than they do on their smartphones, Intel said. It’s hoping to persuade them that with the new processors, that time will be more productive.
By Ian King