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Intel wants to banish cables, connectors with new Broadwell chips

Intel wants to banish cables, connectors with new Broadwell chips

Intel's new Core chips with vPro will support technologies for wireless storage and displays

Bring a laptop into the room, and it wirelessly links to your monitors, external hard drive and printer. That's Intel's vision of a wire-free world for PCs with its new Core chips based on the Broadwell microarchitecture.

Intel announced Thursday the availability of the new fifth-generation Core processors for PCs with support for technologies that could rid computers of a myriad of cables and connectors. The chips are targeted at business laptops, desktops and mini-PCs.

Laptops with the Broadwell vPro chips will be a stepping stone to Intel's ultimate plan to remove cable clutter around laptops and desktops. Intel's wire-free plans call for users to stop carrying power bricks and to charge laptops wirelessly. In the same vein, users will be able to wirelessly connect to peripherals, which could reduce the need for display or USB cables.

But for now, the new Broadwell chips will support only wireless connectivity to displays and peripherals. Wireless charging is expected to come in the second half of this year with the chip maker's new Skylake processors, which will succeed Broadwell.

New Broadwell-based laptops will support Intel's Wireless Docking technology, which is a dock through which laptops, peripherals and monitors can communicate wirelessly. Connecting a laptop wirelessly to a peripheral is as easy as bringing it within communication range. A laptop within range will automatically recognize a monitor that's attached to the dock and start beaming images wirelessly.

But there's more to the wireless dock. Laptops and tablets linked through a dock could immediately share or transfer data with just the flick of a finger on a screen. The dock can support up to two high-definition displays, tablets, cameras, storage drives and other peripherals.

The wireless dock is based on WiGig technology, which provides high-speed data transfers of up to 7Gbps over short distances. While sustained data transfer speeds may not reach those speeds, it is good enough to wirelessly beam high-definition movies to external displays. Intel is now shipping wireless chips that support WiGig technology.

HP is already offering an optional wireless dock with its recently announced Elite X2 1011 hybrid. HP developed the dock with Intel, a spokesman for the PC maker said.

Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and others are expected to ship laptops with the Core vPro chips. Dell has previously offered a WiGig dock, but said it was improving on the technology.

The new Broadwell processors will also support vPro technology, a set of remote management and security features offered by Intel. In case a laptop is stolen, vPro allows data to be wiped remotely. Hardware issues can also be resolved remotely with the help of vPro features on hardware.

The new chips with vPro follow a new line of Core processors for consumer PCs announced earlier this month at the International CES show. The Broadwell chips are faster and more power-efficient than predecessor chips based on the Haswell microarchitecture.

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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