Could a recent Intel announcement mean Surface Pro will have better battery life?


Could a recent Intel announcement mean better battery life for Microsoft's Surface Pro?

When Microsoft announced Surface Pro, it was more than a little quiet about what Intel processor would be in the Windows 8 tablet. Since then, a Microsoft executive has claimed the tablet will have half the battery life of its ARM-based counterpart, Surface with Windows RT. But could that have changed recently?

According to a theory by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may have a few tricks up its sleeve and reveal an updated Intel chipset in the tablet.

Intel's been fighting tooth-and-nail against ARM-based chipsets in recent years and the fact that Microsoft chose to support both x86 and ARM processors has ensured Intel would continue to search for ways to improve its products for the mobile market. Unfortunately for Intel, one of the areas x86 chips have lagged behind has been battery life. That changed slightly yesterday, when Intel announced new chips as part of its Atom and Core processor lines.

These chips are said to provide dramatically improved battery life over previous Atom and Core processors, although they won't be available until later in the year.

While the new chips are irrelevant to Surface Pro, as Microsoft has already said the tablet will have a "3rd generation" Core i5 processor, one key aspect of Intel's announcement may mean the tablet will get a better battery life than previously anticipated. According to an area of the Intel press release noticed by Foley, Intel is "bringing the low-power line of processors into its existing 3rd generation Intel Core processor family" – the same generation Core i5 processor Microsoft plans on using in Surface Pro.

Microsoft was noncommittal in a response to Foley's inquiries about whether the improved processor would make it into Surface Pro, merely saying the company is "excited and optimistic about the continued evolution of Intel Core and Atom processor technology."

It seems unlikely that Microsoft would make a change to the hardware of Surface Pro this close to release – the tablet is expected to launch Jan. 29 – but it could be a possibility. Whether or not Microsoft was actively working with Intel to get the improved processors in the tablet will be revealed soon enough, although Intel's press release made no mention of Surface Pro.

Source: ZDNet | Image via Microsoft

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1Pixel said,
It's still a "Core i" series CPU, so it will have lower battery life no matter what.

The Acer W700 has an Intel Core i5 i5-3317U processor, and Engadget clocked it in at 7:13 hours battery life: http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/14/acer-iconia-w700-review/

That's less than the Surface RT, but not by much, so it's at least possible to have good battery life with an "Core i" series processor. That said, we still don't know specifically what processor is in the Surface Pro, which could be a hint that it's a new, more power friendly model.

ModernMech said,

The Acer W700 has an Intel Core i5 i5-3317U processor, and Engadget clocked it in at 7:13 hours battery life: http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/14/acer-iconia-w700-review/

That's less than the Surface RT, but not by much, so it's at least possible to have good battery life with an "Core i" series processor. That said, we still don't know specifically what processor is in the Surface Pro, which could be a hint that it's a new, more power friendly model.

Thats simply because it has a much larger battery. So it's considerably heavier as well.

The Surface Pro also has a larger battery than the Surface RT, but not as large as the Acer W700. So we wont be seeing 7 hours from Surface Pro.

Even Intels new low power Core i's are still over 10 watt power consumption. Intels Clover Trail and ARM CPU's are 2 - 3 watt. Until Intel get to sub 5 watt all Core i tablets will have considerably lower battery life (or much larger heavier batteries with thicker tablet designs) and will also need a fan. To be fanless they need to get under about 6 - 7 watt.

Just because Intel announced this to the public now doesn't mean that Microsoft didn't know about it months ago.

The fact that the Surface Pro is supposed to be imminent and these chips aren't supposed to be available until "later this year" makes me doubt that they will make it into the first gen. Definitely a possibility for the second gen though.

Well the first gen. will not be as perfect as we want it to be, but like you said, the second gen. might bring that and a few other good improvements, who knows.

The Haswell (4th gen) chips are shipping later this year, the new 7W Ivy Bridge chips are available today.

However, the Lenovo Yoga 11s which Intel showed off (and supposedly uses the new processors) will only be shipping in June, according to Engadget. So I'm also guessing that the Surface Pro is using the 17W Ivy Bridge chips rather than the new 7W ones.

Though there is always the possibility that Microsoft knew about it already, and purposely delayed the launch of the Surface Pro to end-Jan in order to take advantage of these chips.

I guessing that the second-gen Surface Pro, when released, will probably be on a Haswell chip rather than the 7W Ivy Bridge since Haswell chips would probably be out by then.

The specs page for the Surface Pro just says "3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000"

So it's definitely possible that Microsoft knew about these chips all along and plans to use them.

The article seems to imply that using these chips in the Surface Pro would be some sort of last minute hardware change. Either they were designed in from the beginning (and that battery life estimate would then have to mean even with these lower powered chips) or it isn't happening for the first gen Surface Pro.

It wont come close. This is a fact.

As i pointed out in my above post theres no way a Core i CPU will match battery life of ARM or Intels latest Atom.

We already know the power usage of these new Core i series, and it's nowhere near low enough. ARM and Atom use 2 - 3 watt power. This new Core i series is still over 10 watt. It will still need a fan to cool it, and it still wont last anywhere near as long on battery.

If you want x86 software compatibility with great battery life, you have one option right now - Get a Win 8 tablet with Intel Clover Trail/Atom. Like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC. This will give you 10 hours battery life.

benalvino said,
If the chip is in the atom category... Then I will stick with gen 3 iseries processor i don't care much of battery


Sigh... Reading is overrated.

On one side, I can almost see why this is 4 - 5 hours. It has the computing power of a laptop and a tablet and normally the batteries inside tablets hold a charge better because all it's doing is running a strictly mobile oriented-OS. On the other hand I've seen too much technological advancements and I think if Microsoft tried hard enough they could squeeze a couple more hours into the Surface Pro.

If it happens, I'm buying 100%, if not, then it will have to wait for Surface Pro 2. Until then I can use my RT.

The thing that no CPU has managed yet is to combine both higher performance and high battery life. That would appear to be the holy grail.

"Intel's been fighting tooth-and-nail against ARM-based chipsets "

actually no they haven't. clovertrail is a 5 year old chip on a 3 year old process. this is not intel tooth and nail fight. that is called baytrail. and the fight looks like
ARM 28nm beta process vs intels 22nm mature process.

ARM is going to open a can of whoopass.

Maybe, I still believe that Microsoft will unveil additionnal accessories for the Surface Pro such as:
- a dock for more inputs and multimonitor support
- a power keyboard cover to double battery life

'When Microsoft announced Surface Pro, it was more than a little quiet about what Intel processor would be in the Windows 8 tablet'

Really? I am pretty sure they announced it would be a 3rd gen Intel i5 Ivy bridge at the Surface announcement back in june 2012.

http://youtu.be/ervY6As5OcI?t=22m46s

I'm not sure where they got the info from, but accordng to Merrill Lynch, the 7W 3rd-Gen Ivy Bridge is being shipped now for OEM products available in March.

If the sneaky buggers over at Microsoft Hardware involved in the making and designing of Surface were able to come out with an announcement from under a cloak of complete darkness I have absolutely no doubt they have a couple of tricks up their sleeves! Microsoft have worked with Intel and AMD before on processor development, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they did it again.

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