Intel to show thin tablet-laptop hybrid with delayed Broadwell chip

The 2-in-1 points to Broadwell laptops and tablets being available by year end

A new but delayed chip from Intel that promises better performance and lower power consumption for tablets and laptops will take a small but important step forward this week with a planned demonstration at the Computex trade show.

The chip, called Broadwell, is Intel's next major processor but production problems have pushed back its launch and Intel hasn't said much about it for months. That will change when Intel shows off a 2-in-1 device -- which can be a laptop or tablet -- based on the chip at the event in Taipei.

The prototype, which is called Llama Mountain, will be among the thinnest hybrid devices shown by Intel, and will be based on a fifth-generation Core processor, sources familiar with the company's plans said. No more details about the Broadwell chip, or the hybrid's size or weight were shared.

The manufacturing problems with Broadwell are a rare misstep for the world's biggest chip maker.

Intel typically releases new chips on an annual basis but the multiple problems mark the first major processor delay since the Pentium 4 chip more than a decade ago.

Intel has said Broadwell chips will be 30 percent more power-efficient and faster than their Haswell counterparts, and also boast better graphics. Desktop variants of the chip will support new technologies like DDR4 memory, and also have new graphics cores.

Only one Broadwell chip has been announced -- an unlocked gaming chip for gamers, but Intel hasn't provided a shipment date for that product. Intel has been showing an all-in-one reference PC called Black Brook based on Broadwell at conferences to highlight what the chip can do in desktops.

The Broadwell delay is having a rollover effect on the company's successor PC chips like Skylake, which is due for release next year. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has maintained Skylake -- which is based on a brand new architecture -- would not be delayed. That could interrupt PC upgrade cycles with people bypassing Broadwell -- which could have a lifespan of under a year -- to go straight to Skylake.

Early production of Broadwell is already underway and the first chips are already in the hands of PC makers. Intel has said Broadwell chips will reach shelves by the holiday season, but hasn't specified whether they'd be laptop or desktop variants. This week's demonstration at Computex points to Broadwell-based tablets and laptops being released by the end of this year.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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