Broadwell-U Processors officially launch. Here’s a performance, battery life and features round-up.

Posted on 05 January 2015 by

5th_Gen_Intel_Core_processor_with_Intel_Iris_Graphics_die

Just a few days ago I was tempted to wrap up this site. The Intel Ultrabook project was finished a long time ago and new products using the trademark had tailed-off. The segment got a bit fuzzy and when Samsung announced that the Ativ Book 9 would relaunch with a Core M processor I was ready to continue the story of ultra mobile laptops at UMPCPortal. Today this site’s near-future has been secured thanks to activities at CES in Las Vegas. The Lenovo X1 Carbon got a refresh with the newly announced 5th-Generation Core i7 and Intel have just referenced the Ultrabook in their press release on the launch of the new range of Core CPUs. Broadwell-U is here!

10 new 5th-Generation Core Mobile CPUs with 15W TDP were launched today and we’re expecting real-world performance benchmark figures to follow.

Broadwell-U Performance and battery life.

Don’t expect a huge jump in performance. Intel are quoting 24 percent better graphics performance and up to 50 percent faster video conversion (Intel Quick Sync.) In terms of CPU performance it all depends on the thermal design. Given the same thermal headroom the 5th-Gen CPUs should be able to Turbo for longer until they reach the same temperature but given that most of the new laptops and 2-in-1s using these processors will have a different thermal envelope it will depend a lot on the product. Stay tuned for tests but expect 10-20 CPU performance increase in some benchmarks.

Also of note is the TDP-Down configuration available which will force these CPUs to run down to 7.5W in some cases which means throttled speed-stepping and Turbo and therefore throttled performance. You’re likely to see that in 2-in-1 detachable designs although it’s difficult to imagine that many detachable designs will choose Broadwell-U over Core M – the CPU designed for that very form-factor.

In terms of battery life you’ll probably see about 10-15% improvement being quoted by manufacturers. Intel are quoting up to 1.5hrs on a system with a 40Wh battery and that matches roughly with what Lenovo are saying about the new X1 Carbon 2015 with an increase from 9 to over 10 hours of battery life. Be aware that there’s a new audio decoder in the 5th-Gen Core architecture which will bring good percentage improvements during video playback. In other scenarios the improvement may not be as noticeable.

There are already a few laptops out there using the new CPU. The ASUS Zenbook UX303LA has been listed in various places and the Lenovo X1 Carbon has already been mentioned but as CES kicks off its press day you should expect the list of Ultrabook or Ultrabook-like devices to increase during the next 48 hours. We’ll try to get the products into the Ultrabook database ASAP.

Intel Smart SoundBroadwell-U Features.

The audio decoding subsystem also includes optional codecs for processing from Waves and DTS along with wake-on-voice features as seen in Core M. There are new video decoding features too.  Decode ‘support’ for VP8,VP9 and HEVC is included but my understanding is that this might not be a full hardware decode.

Support for the latest graphics APIs (DX 11.2, DX 12 Ready) and graphics programmability features, including OpenCL 2.0 and OpenGL 4.3 are included in the HD 5500 and HD 6000 GPU. The Iris graphics HD 6100 appears in 28W Broadwell-U processors and as such is not likely to appear in Ultrabook-class devices.

Also announced today was Intel WiDi V5.1 which can support (given the right WiFi module, software and CPU) up to 4K wireless streaming.

New Broadwell / 5th Gen Core processors announced. (15W TDP)

Click through to access Intel’s processor database information.)

Intel® Core™ i3-5010U Processor  (3M Cache, 2.10 GHz), HD Graphics 5500

Intel® Core™ i3-5005U Processor  (3M Cache, 2.00 GHz), HD Graphics 5500

Intel® Core™ i5-5250U Processor  (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz), , HD Graphics 6000

Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor  (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz),  HD Graphics 5500

Intel® Core™ i5-5350U Processor  (3M Cache, up to 2.90 GHz), HD Graphics 6000

Intel® Core™ i5-5300U Processor  (3M Cache, up to 2.90 GHz), HD Graphics 5500

Intel® Core™ i7-5550U Processor  (4M Cache, up to 3.00 GHz), HD Graphics 6000

Intel® Core™ i7-5500U Processor  (4M Cache, up to 3.00 GHz), HD Graphics 5500

Intel® Core™ i7-5650U Processor  (4M Cache, up to 3.20 GHz), HD Graphics 6000

Intel® Core™ i7-5600U Processor  (4M Cache, up to 3.20 GHz), HD Graphics 5500

With Core M already on the shelf it gives manufacturers a wide range of choice. Tablet-style 2-in-1s and consumer focused Ultrabook-style devices are likely to use the Core M processor which leaves Broadwell-U for more serious work. Does this mean that we’ll get back to the original Ultrabook laptop formula which was focused on productivity, mobility, battery life and business? We’re hoping so.

The Intel press release is available as a PDF here.

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  • Jordi

    Please continue this website !!
    It’s the perfect “database” of all ultrabooks, and your analysis are always so accurate !
    I’m on the market for a new Ultrabook this year and without your website I’m lost.
    [Now I’m gonna read the article ^^]

  • Chris

    I need a good ultrabook (my old one is just about to crash, i think) and i’m just waiting for the U ones to be released. From what i read here, and in other sites, i don’t see a significant difference from previous models? SDo you think that it will worth the extra money compared to the haswell models or we will have to wait a little more?

    Thank you and keep the good job!

    • Steve Chippy Paine

      I expect Haswell options to continue for quite a few months so prices will have to drop a bit which means…good bargains.
      The Broadwell platform is the stepping stone to Skylake and that’s where you’ll see it pull well ahead of Haswell. If you need the extra 10-20% (power or battery life) or a new model not available with Haswell then look to Broadwell but if not, look for offers on Haswell Ultrabooks.

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