Haswell is here: Intel launches fourth-gen Core in Australia

Underneath the new Intel chips, there are lots and lots of transistors.

Fresh off the back of the launch at Computex in Taipei last week, Intel has launched the next generation of its processors, and carrying benefits such as fifty percent more battery life and the hint of touch in every new laptop, there’s a lot for consumers to be happy about.

Every year, we see some exciting developments from processor makers about how computers are going to be better than ever, and this year is no exception.

With Intel moving past the bridges that previously codenamed second and third generation processors (Sandy Bridge for 2nd, Ivy Bridge for 3rd), we’re now onto Haswell.

So what’s in store for this new generation?

Aside for a new set of chip model numbers that bring with “4” (and that’s your dead giveaway to work out what you’re looking at), the new processors have been designed with up to 1.4 billion transistors packed into the tiny space.

These bits that make up the chip are so small, that apparently when viewed under a very, very strong microscope, you can see a measurement of three atoms across each. That’s super small.

Put together and designed with a bunch of know how, Intel has created a line of processors that not only promises greater performance, but also stronger graphics capabilities, better battery life, and the compact size that means this technology can be thrown into devices with smaller form-factors.

“It’s a fundamental reinvention of the transistor,” said Gregory Bryant, Intel’s Vice President of the Sales and Marketing Group and General Manager for Intel in the Asia Pacific region.

“It’s a new architecture, a new level of integration that really enables it to work well in these devices.”

The Haswell-equipped Sony VAIO Duo 13.

The devices in question are laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and the hybrids we began to see with Windows 8 that combine the tablet and laptop form-factors together. This area, which Intel calls the “2-in-1” is expected to dominate in the near future, as laptops become tablets and tablets become better machines overall.

One way this will happen stems from Intel’s increase of battery life, with standby time pushed to over a week in new laptops, and real-time use increased by roughly fifty percent. Laptops that previously only managed four hours can now reach six and higher, while computers that once offered six hours of high definition movie playback could now hit nine.

That’s the work on the chip, and it’s a feature we’re excited to see in action, as all day life is a dream of many a computer user.

“It is the biggest generation over generation increase on battery life in the company,” said Bryant at the launch this week.

“It’s not five percent better,” he added. “When you say fifty percent better, the average consumer is going to notice.”

Alienware's new laptops are designed for gamers.

Graphics are also important, and with support for 4K TVs built into the new chipsets, consumers who can afford the high-end TVs will be able to play back media and video games on their big screens.

Gamers will also appreciate the work made to the graphics, and the new system — now called Iris and Iris Pro, not just HD graphics like before — will mean modern gaming is possible on an Ultrabook without needing a discrete graphics chip that draws from the battery heavily.

While graphics and battery are among the big features, there are also little additions that consumers will appreciate, such as the voice control to let you command your computer, anti-theft security features, USB 3.0 support, possibilities for Thunderbolt, and native Intel wireless display (WiDi) across the platform.

The new Intel chips will arrive even in the 8 inch form-factor.

Already, manufacturers are getting ready for the new chips, and though it will no doubt take time for all the new machines to hit the shelf, you can expect them within the next two to three months.

Some of these will arrive as early as next week, such as Sony’s new VAIO and Duo Pro range, which look to be very impressive.

HP's Rove

HP showed us a quick look at its Rove concept, which provided a 20 inch portable tablet that doubles as a full computer that can be used flat or stood up on its stand.

It’s a neat idea, and one which looks suitable for families as a computer that can go from room to room easily, running on battery power if need be.

Acer's easel-hinged R7

Acer had two machines that grabbed us on display, with the R7 concept with its unique easel hinge, and the 8 inch Windows 8 tablet, which will initially see a third-gen Intel release in Australia, followed by fourth-gen later in the year.

Asus had more laptops on show which looked to match the mid-to-high end, as did Toshiba, and it was neat to see Alienware’s gaming systems, which are built to look amazing and feature more light up gaming goodness than ever before.

Asus laptops with fourth-gen processors.

If you have to have the most memory, the fastest graphics, more light-up colours, oh and a copy of Windows 7, Alienware will have you down.

Even LG’s recently announced Ultrabook will see a move to Haswell, though there’s no timeframe as to when that will happen.

LG's 2013 Ultrabook

All up, it’s an exciting time, and if you were holding off from buying a new machine because of what you heard, you probably did the right thing.

Now, to decide just which is the best computer…