Can This Ultra-Fast Chip Take Intel Into the Future?

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INCT) will show off its new Haswell computer chip in PCs made by companies including Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ) this week at Computex, the biggest annual computer event.

The new chip has 50 percent longer battery life than Intel’s previous models, and is meant to be used in ultra-thin laptops and tablets. The devices shown at Computex will used to demonstrate the chip’s ability to convert between tablets and laptops, allowing for machines with detachable touch-screens and keypads. The new chip will have enough battery life to allow laptop users to watch up to three movies in a row without having to plug in.

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Intel has struggled in the face of slumping laptop sales as the tablet market continues to grow. The company is counting on Haswell and other super energy-efficient processors to help increase laptop sales and get more business in the tablet market. It’s expected that by 2015, global tablet shipments will have surpassed PCs. According to research from IDC, tablet shipments will grow 45 percent by 2015 and PC shipments may drop 7.8 percent this year, the worst annual dip on record.

It has been rumored that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will include the Haswell chip in its new MacBooks, although that information has not yet been made public. Acer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard seem confident in the new chip’s abilities. “We are all in on Haswell,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president for consumer PCs and solutions at Hewlett-Packard. “We know the convertible area can pick up some of the tablet demand.” Acer president Jim Wong echoed those sentiments, saying that the chip “can achieve balance between high performance and very-low power consumption.”

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Still, Intel may continue to struggle as people increasingly turn to less expensive tablets and smartphones for their computing needs. Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc., said of the future of the laptop, “Consumers aren’t buying the big, expensive ones. They’re buying the smaller, streamlined ones. You can’t undo the influence of the tablet.”

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