Rumor: Lower-wattage Ivy Bridge chips coming

Less than a year old, and Ivy Bridge may already be going on a diet. Oh my. According to someone with knowledge of Intel's plans quoted by CNet News, the chipmaker is cooking up some new Ivy processors with "significantly" lower power consumption than today's offerings.

How much lower? CNet's source doesn't say exactly—but word is that Intel is shooting for something "well below" the 17W TDP of Ivy models found in today's ultrabooks. Intel is unlikely to launch anything this month, so we'll likely see these lower-power chips at some point next year, CNet News suggests.

Now, we all know Intel plans to slash power envelopes down to as little as 10W with its Haswell processors next year. Intel said as much a couple of months ago, and CNet mentions it in its story. Rolling out a lower-power version of Ivy just before Haswell's debut would definitely be an unexpected move.

Perhaps Intel is simply looking for a stopgap to power Windows 8 tablets, though. CNet says PC makers are reluctant to use Z-series Atoms because of their poor performance. At the same time, 17W variants of Ivy Bridge probably aren't a perfect fit for slates. According to our calculations, the Ivy-powered Surface for Windows 8 Pro will only have four hours of battery life despite weighing in at 2.2 lbs. A sub-17W Ivy Bridge could provide a decent middle ground to tide us over until Haswell.

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