Does Intel No Longer Love the Desktop?

Does Intel No Longer Love the Desktop?

Thanks to the prolific rise of smartphones and tablets, the writing has been on the wall for PC makers for quite some time. It's gotten to the point where Intel has completely shifted its long-term strategy toward gaining significant market share in mobile computing. To that end, Intel Haswell was born, the company's fourth-generation "Core" family processor.

For portable computing applications, there's no denying Haswell's technological prowess. Devices powered by Haswell can realistically expect to see around a 50% improvement in battery life from previous generation portables, assuming all else is equal. Thanks to Haswell, Apple was able to increase its 13-inch MacBook Air battery life from seven to 12 hours.

Although the trade-off between endurance over performance is an effective approach for portable PCs to make gains against mobile computing, it doesn't necessarily translate to the desktop, which is typically more focused on raw computing power.

Thankfully, even with Haswell's more mobile-friendly design, desktop users won't be disappointed. According to Gordon Mah Ung of MaximumPC, Haswell in the desktop "for the most part" outperformed its Ivy Bridge predecessor between 8% and 15%, depending on the metric. In other words, the desktop market can rest assured that the company's long-term strategy of emphasizing mobile computing won't necessarily detract from desktop performance boosts.

The bigger picture
Between desktops and portable PCs, the desktop remains the weakest link. Despite IDC anticipating total worldwide PC shipments will increase between 2013 and 2017 by nearly 4%, the firm expects desktop shipments will decline by about 8%. That said, Intel's focus on mobile computing solutions is a much safer long-term bet than maintaining a core emphasis on desktop computing. Not to mention, the company has proven it can put its efforts toward mobile without neglecting the desktop market.

In the end, it's the world that's falling out of love with desktops -- not Intel.

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