INTC: Will Broadwell Chips Be CES’ Biggest Splash?

Intel Corporation (INTC) made what might have been one of the most important announcements at CES 2015. INTC introduced a full line of fifth-generation Core processors — the eagerly anticipated Broadwell chips.

INTC Boradwell chips
Source: Intel

These new CPUs are much more than spec-bumps over the previous-gen Haswell chips — Broadwell chips represent the kind of evolution in chip design that’s likely to spur consumers and businesses to upgrade their PCs.

And that would be a very good thing for Intel stock.

INTC Broadwell Architecture

Intel is promising that its new Broadwell chips offer much more than the usual modest performance bump over previous-generation hardware.

You can read the full the specifics on Intel’s website if you’re interested in detail (PDF fact sheet), but here are the key talking points about the Broadwell chips:

  • 14nm process processor size has shrunken by 37%, but has 35% more transistors (now 1.3 billion)
  • Graphics performance boosted by 24%
  • 50% faster video conversion
  • 20% to 30% improvement in battery life (an average of 90 minutes additional battery time)
  • Support for full 4K video streaming
  • Support for fanless PC designs
  • Improved system performance

In other words, the new INTC Broadwell chips are significantly smaller, and offer both performance improvements (a pretty large boost when it comes to anything to do with video) and a big enhancement in battery life.

Just the sort of thing portable PC manufacturers have been desperate for as tablets continue to eat into their sales.

PCs With Broadwell Chips Are in the CES Spotlight

The first of Intel’s Broadwell chips were announced last summer as Core M chips, but they weren’t available until late in the year. However, at the Consumer Electronics Show, INTC went big with Broadwell, updating its entire consumer product line from Celerons to Core i7 processors. PC manufacturers are showing off just what these new chips are capable of.

For example, Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (LNVGY) is touting the new LaVie Z notebook, which now holds the title of the world’s lightest 13.3-inch notebook. With a fifth-generation Core i5 Broadwell chip powering it, the LaVie Z weighs just 1.72 pounds.

At the other extreme, an INTC Broadwell chip is powering a super-sized Chromebook, a 15.6-inch model from Acer that proves Broadwell chips from INTC do budget-friendly as well.

A whole range of new UltraBooks, convertible PCs — and Chromebooks — at CES 2015 are showing off the advantages of Intel’s new Broadwell chips.

Intel Stock Would Benefit From a PC Upgrade Cycle

According to The Verge, there are currently some 600 million PCs in service that haven’t been upgraded in four years or more. Many of these are laptops (or machines that would be replaced by laptops) and that is a big target for PC manufacturers.

INTC says owners of these four-year-old PC laptops can expect to see graphics performance that’s 12 times better, general system performance that’s 2.5 times better, wake-up times that are nine times faster and up to double the battery life if they replace their old hardware with a Broadwell-powered notebook.

That’s a compelling reason to upgrade, and it’s not just INTC stock that would benefit — PC manufacturers stand to sell more computers, and Microsoft (MSFT) is likely to move more Windows 8 licenses.

Even Apple (AAPL) sees the upgrade opportunity. After several years of disappointed MacBook Air fans stuck with low-resolution displays, it is highly expected to release a Retina Display MBA this year. Apple has reportedly been waiting for the Broadwell chips with their emphasis on graphics performance and battery life.

INTC Cherry Trail Also Shipping

Intel didn’t leave out mobile users at CES 2015. The company also announced its new Cherry Trail CPUs for tablets.

Expect these new 14nm processors with advanced technology such as wireless display transmission, contextual awareness and support for biometric “no password” security to show up in new tablets in the first half of 2015.

CES 2015 Turning Into a Win for INTC

With the tech media spotlight on CES 2015, the timing was perfect for INTC to launch its new Broadwell chips.

The performance improvements of the chips themselves –and Intel’s unprecedented move to update every segment of its consumer CPU product line in a single go– are getting headlines. However, the sleek new PC notebooks, UltraBooks, Chromebooks and convertibles showing off those new Broadwell chips at CES are giving the 5th generation Core CPUs much more attention than any press conference ever could.

And if the advantages of those slick Broadwell-powered PCs catch consumers’ eyes at CES, upgrade fever will spell good news for PC manufacturers and Intel stock.

As of this writing Brad Moon doesn’t hold any securities mentioned here.

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