Tech giant Intel has been giving users peeks here and there at its new Skylake CPUs, but now they get the whole picture. This week at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show in Berlin, Intel provided attendees with eagerly-awaited details on the sixth-generation Core chips, including speeds, price and information about their internal designs.
The company showed off dozens of variations of the new chips at the trade show, including the Core Y-series chips for tablets, U-series chips for thin-and-light notebooks, and the H-series chips for mobile devices and performance mobile workstations. Also on display were the S-series chips, which will come with performance and value desktops, all-in-ones and mini PCs.
And Intel isn’t finished rolling out the new line. During the fourth quarter of 2015 and into next year, the company will release vPro versions of the Core i5, Core i7, m5, and m7 chips, as well as more Pentium and Celeron versions. Intel also plans to release a Xeon-branded version of Skylake for servers.
The new array of CPUs is Intel’s way of encouraging consumers to go with hardware upgrades in the form of new PCs instead of just upgrading their old machines. The company expects that the new chips, with their many features, will make faster, more efficient PCs a must-have. Although most Skylake CPUs will come pre-installed on new machines, they start at about $250 if sold separately.
Speed Gains DIffer
We reached out to Linley Gwennap, principal analyst for The Linley Group, who told us that Skylake offers significant gains in either clock speed or power for users upgrading from the 22nm Haswell.
"Compared with Broadwell, however, the gains are minimal," said Gwennap. "These products see little or no clock-speed increase."
In studying Skylake, Gwennap’s company estimated that the enhancements to the CPU design yield about 5 percent more performance per clock cycle on most PC applications. The reason is that Skylake’s advances are more conspicuous outside the CPU, in the form of a new image-processing engine and added DDR4 and PCI Express 3.0 interfaces. Also, GPU and video engine upgrades in Skylake increase performance per watt.
The lowest-power offerings in Intel’s Skylake lineup are the Core M chips, which go by the same name, but with a lower-case M: Core m. Consuming just 4.5 watts, these will mostly be used in 2-in-1 devices.
To underscore how Skylake CPUs can represent a true upgrade for users who have been reluctant to purchase new PCs, Intel is comparing Skylake’s performance to the hardware in a typical 2010 notebook computer. Skylake delivers more than double the speed and triple the battery life and wakes up four times faster, according to Intel. It also enables such features as the WiDi mirroring solution, Cortana and touch interaction. Also, Skylake has been optimized for Windows 10, Intel noted.
Compared to Broadwell, though, Skylake can boast only about a 10-percent speed boost, slightly longer battery power, and superior graphics. Gwennap said that while the performance upgrade will be relatively slight, Skylake will offer the advantages of 14nm to mainstream desktop and notebook PCs. "And it supports the latest platform technologies, giving PC users new reasons to upgrade," he said.