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Intel Corp.’s next-generation code-named Haswell microprocessors will not only improve performance and feature some tricks to lower power consumption, but will also feature a secret weapon: integrated voltage regulator module (VRM). The latter will allow to improve granularity of power supply to central processing units and thus further cut power consumption without compromising performance. 

At present, voltage regulator modules and various power ICs are located on mainboards. In the recent years, to better regulate voltages of different blocks within central processing units, multi-phase CPU power supply circuitries were implemented. Such circuitries are rather costly and take up a lot of space on mainboards. But most importantly, granularity and performance of such VRMs is not as high as Intel wants.

In a bid to make its chips even more power efficient than they are today, Intel has developed a special programmable chip with 20 power cells, reports PC Watch web-site. Each power cells is a mini VR with analogue circuits rated for up to 25A electric current and supporting up to 16 phases. Potentially, one 20-cell chip enables 320 power phases per CPU, which allows extreme granularity of power supply. Intel will install the integrated voltage regulator (IVR) chip, which will be made using 22nm process technology onto the same substrate with Haswell microprocessors.

Integrated VRM will allow to independently and very precisely control power consumption of each core, graphics core, system agent as well as well as interconnection buses within Haswell chip. Such fine-grain regulation can decrease power consumption without compromising performance. For example, with Haswell it is possible to halt all CPU cores during video playback without halting ring-bus interconnections, which means that only graphics core will consume power and given the fact that the interconnection will continue to operate at full speed, video playback will be smooth.

Eventually, Intel plans to build in IVR into microprocessor itself, which will further improve granularity of power supply. This will not only be useful for code-named Broadwell chips for notebooks, but also for various system-on-chip solutions for smartphones and tablets. In the latter case this will significantly boost Intel’s competitive positions against various solutions based on ARM technology, which dominates the mobile electronics these days.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Intel, Core, Haswell, 22nm, Broadwell


Comments currently: 12
Discussion started: 12/27/12 04:17:25 AM
Latest comment: 11/16/13 05:09:36 AM
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Bye bye overclockers ... improved granularity and better voltage regulation should be excellent news otherwise.
0 0 [Posted by: OmegaHuman  | Date: 12/27/12 04:17:25 AM]
- collapse thread

If you move the VRM from the motherboard to the CPU, it doesn't mean overclocking is dead. I am sure the motherboard makers will figure out a way to give us software control over Load Line calibration for the IVR in Haswell via the UEFI since the CPU still has to communicate with the mobo.

Even if we go with your assumption that we will have no way to alter voltage on Z87 motherboards, you'll still be able to overclock on stock voltage. You are also assuming Intel will block all voltage control on the chip. What stops Intel from allowing some degree of voltage control on K series overclocking chips? Intel has no intention of killing the K series overclocking segment CPUs with Haswell.

K series chips have much higher profit margins for Intel for 2 reasons. Even though there are some binning costs associated with the top quads becoming Ks, Intel charges a premium for the K series which is easy $ for them and offers overclockers additional warranty ( on top that gives overclockers a peace of mind to push the CPU even more.

Why would Intel give up these easy profits and block overclocking and voltage control when they went out of their way to cater to enthusiasts by offering new options like the Performance Tuning Protection plans?
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/27/12 09:21:54 AM]
Even though there are some binning costs associated with the top quads becoming Ks

On the subject of binning, its done at the test program level. There are no more costs involved other than the cost of making a Test program that deals with all the bins that they want to consider. Its one system. They must make a test program anyway so it will handle all the bins
1 0 [Posted by: vanakkuty  | Date: 12/27/12 07:23:31 PM]
Even better, pure profit then for Intel with K series label. Intel likes easy profit. I believe the integrated voltage regulation module might actually improve overclocking due to cleaner power being supplied. Motherboards won't need to be as complicated which means to make mobos more attractive to consumers, the mobo makers would need to start bringing higher end features like Thunderbolt and PCIe 8x/8x to lower price levels like $120-150.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/28/12 12:03:18 AM]

Also bye bye smaller independent VRM makers. You should do business elsewhere. Aafter monopolization Intels self-created netbook market and promisin gattack on tablet and smartphone market they now try to wipe out independent VRM market for their CPUs. It might look as a great news to OEM but this will come with doubled price (at least) for VRM as well
1 2 [Posted by: OmegaHuman  | Date: 12/27/12 04:23:15 AM]
- collapse thread

This should be a boost for CPU heatsink makers though

Hot VRMs will move from the motherboard to the CPU. $20-30 mid-range heatsinks might be inadequate for 4.5ghz+ overclocks trying to keep the die and VRM at reasonable temperatures.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/27/12 11:56:44 AM]

i wonder how much better the battery life on a notebook will be with VRM on the chip. I mean watching a movie while the cores are completely shut off from power and the only thing powered on the chip is the ring bus to the gpu will prob save a good amount of battery life instead of cores continuing to use power when they don't need to be.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 12/27/12 10:08:02 AM]

this still means you have a VR on the MOTHERBOARD! do not worry just voltage control is there, that in't the problem, the issue is temperature variations, like for instance this adds temperature and probably uses different type of silicon which might impeded extreme OC.
0 0 [Posted by: ssb2245  | Date: 12/28/12 10:34:29 AM]

On the downside, will this give mobo makers another excuse to give us even crappier voltage control/quality parts on mobo's, and will prices for said boards fall ???
0 0 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 12/28/12 10:27:45 PM]

When the market leaves you fiddling with you product specs isn't going to bring it back. Think what happened to the last generation of accounting machines. e.g NCR etc. they may have had the biggest and the best adding machines and they were bypassed by a shift in the demand for their type of product. The old accounting machines are long gone now and this will happen again to the present day accounting machine manufactures.
0 0 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 01/01/13 06:57:05 PM]

I am doing my PhD on VR design. I wonder how can they manage to provide the load slew rate which was 300A/us for VR11.1 ??!!?
0 0 [Posted by: VRsurgeon  | Date: 03/11/13 11:38:15 PM]


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