Known as a “die-shrink”, newer processors are refined and made smaller than their predecessors. This improves power management, which should reduce wasted electricity (also reducing wasted heat), and improve battery life. At some point however, we’ll be fighting physics as we wont be able to continue shrinking these parts forever.
While we might hit that manufacturing brick wall some day, that day is not today.
Intel recently released “Haswell” to the market, and its 22nm construction has already allowed for new tablet-like form factors for full-fledged PC’s from Sony, Lenovo, Asus, and other manufacturers. Computers which run full versions of desktop operating systems and programs, but in form factors approaching consumer grade tablets. Intel is estimating that Broadwell based computers will see an almost 30% gain in battery life over current Haswell technology. We could be seeing Windows 8 tablets and hybrids approaching or surpassing iPad battery life by early next year.
Intel also discussed 14nm construction for their Atom line of low power chips used in phones. Those parts should be shipping in actual devices by the end of 2014.
Intel president Renée James also teased future development from the CPU developer, claiming “we have 14 nanometer working and we can see beyond that. I assure you it’s alive and well.” Exciting stuff, especially for future mobility products.