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Haswell processors to require new power supplies?

QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

Arguably the most important new feature of Intel's upcoming Haswell processors is the extremely low idle power consumption.  Well, ARM would like to tell you that it's not really that low, but by the traditional standards of high-performance x86 processors, Haswell's idle power consumption will be very low, and possibly the lowest ever.

This is mainly useful in laptops, as if you can reduce the idle power consumption by a watt or two, you can extend battery life considerably.  In desktops, it's not such a big deal, as if your processor uses a few watts at idle, so what?

But then it recently came out that in desktops, it could actually be problematic.  If the CPU power connector pulls a small fraction of a watt, will power supplies be able to keep the voltage suitably stable?  If not, then the computer crashes.  This is a bad thing.  If this sounds like a trivial concern, it might not be, as apparently some power supplies can't.

So naturally Enermax quickly jumped on this and announced that their high end power supplies are all completely compatible with Haswell.  They didn't mention their mid-range to low end power supplies in this announcement.  Seasonic more recently did the same.  Now Corsair has as well, and unlike Enermax and Seasonic, Corsair actually mentioned that they have more budget-friendly power supplies.  Of course, Corsair didn't say that their budget power supplies support Haswell, but only that they likely do but they're not sure yet.

This might all be much ado about nothing.  If some $15 Diablotek or Apevia piece of junk crashes when Haswell goes idle, so what?  It's not like it would be safe to use at any other wattage.

And even if there are a lot of decent power supplies that genuinely don't support Haswell's low idle power consumption, it will be easy enough to fix in the BIOS by disabling the C-states that Haswell would normally try to use at idle.  Artificially increase the idle power consumption so that Haswell uses a few watts at idle and the problem is solved.  If this turns into a major issue, I wouldn't be surprised to see motherboard vendors ship BIOSes that disable certain C-states by default.

Comments

  • CleffyCleffy San Diego, CAPosts: 4,623Member Uncommon
    I usually buy a new PSU when I build a new system anyway.  Also who would put a Diablotek in their system?  Last time I looked at a $15 diablotek PSU, the consumer reviews said it catches on fire.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Cleffy
    I usually buy a new PSU when I build a new system anyway.  Also who would put a Diablotek in their system?  Last time I looked at a $15 diablotek PSU, the consumer reviews said it catches on fire.

    People who think that the nominal wattage is all that matters sometimes would.  There are a lot of cheap junk power supplies out there to cater to such people.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,174Member Uncommon

    This is much ado about nothing.

    Yes - some power supplies won't be able to support the new C6/7 states.
    Yes - it's as simple as disabling those C-states in the BIOS.

    However, if this can be used as a marketing tool - it will be, and it certainly is.

    Just like we "need" XMP-compatible RAM to work on an Intel motherboard.

  • TrionicusTrionicus Fort Lauderdale, FLPosts: 497Member
    Just confirming, Haswell is the intel equivalent of the AMD's A series chips? or am I thinking Atom?
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Trionicus
    Just confirming, Haswell is the intel equivalent of the AMD's A series chips? or am I thinking Atom?

    Haswell is the successor to Ivy Bridge.  Like Ivy Bridge, desktop and laptop Haswell chips will have integrated graphics.  Also like Ivy Bridge, if you're going to use integrated graphics, you don't want Haswell; you want AMD.

    There really isn't a clean Intel competitor to AMD's A-series chips.  In terms of hardware capabilities and target market, you could say that Ivy Bridge is analogous to AMD's A-series chips in that they're primarily built to be laptop chips, while Sandy Bridge-E is analogous to AMD's FX-series chips in that they're primarily built to be server chips and have no integrated graphics.

    But in market positioning, that's not how it works.  You buy AMD A-series if you're going to use integrated graphics, AMD FX-series if you're getting a discrete video card and want a budget gaming desktop, and Ivy Bridge if you're getting a discrete video card in any laptop or in a higher end desktop.

    Three months from today, replace Ivy Bridge by Haswell and everything in the previous two paragraphs will still hold.

  • PrecusorPrecusor PalmaPosts: 4,733Member Uncommon
    God i hope not..
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