Intel launched 14 nm Broadwell processors for mobile devices last week at IFA 2014. Today at Intel Developers Forum 2014 event in San Francisco, the company has also announced the upcoming 14 nm Skylake desktop and mobile CPUs which will debut in the second half of 2015. Skylake falls under the Tock strategy in Intel’s Tick Tock road map. It has been a very confusing year for the company especially with the transition to 14 nm from 22 nm manufacturing process. It all occurred due to a delay in Broadwell which should have launched in Q3 2014. As a result, two architectures will be sold side by side in 2015 in LGA packaging. Intel Skylake will bring some major improvements compared to Haswell Refresh and Broadwell. The major improvement will be the introduction of DDR4 memory for mainstream consumers and a new graphics core for Intel HD graphics.
Intel announces Skylake for 2H 2015; DDR4 support, new HD graphics and 14 nm manufacturing process
Intel has already progressed to 14 nm manufacturing process with the launch of Broadwell mobile CPUs. Core M CPUs brought major advancements in terms of efficiency as well as performance. Core M (Broadwell-Y) dual-core processors have a max TDP of just 4.5 w enabling hybrid 2-in-1 and fanless designs. Skylake promises even more improvements especially for the desktop segment. The only disappointment is that Skylake will not have any unlocked “K” series processors at the time of its launch. This is the only way Intel can keep Broadwell desktop CPUs alive by delaying Skylake high-end desktop chips.
Surprisingly, there are no delays in Skylake infact Intel had demo chips for both desktop and notebooks running 3DMark Fire Strike at IDF 2014. Skylake-S for LGA 1151 processors will also introduce a new chipset family denoted by 100 series. The performance series will be Z170, mainstream will be H170, H110 will replace H81, B150 will replace B85 and Q170/150 will replace Q87 and Q85 chipsets. Do not expect a lot of changes in the chipset because it will be a minor update over Z97. New 100 series chipset family will bring more PCIe lanes and more USB 3.0 ports.
Details of Skylake-S LGA 1151 desktop CPUs were leaked earlier and they were spot on interms of TDP. The flagship Z170 chipset will support the unlocked “K” series processors which might launch in Q3 2015, the same time frame in which Haswell Refresh launched this year. The most interesting bit is that Skylake-S will support both DDR3L and DDR4 memory. It is possible that motherboard manufacturers dedicate one channel to DDR4 and one channel to DDR3L as a legacy support.
Lastly, Skylake-S will introduce new HD graphics while Broadwell will feature an improved version of Iris Pro. The enthusiasts CPUs will feature GT2 and GT4e graphics while the slower dual-core variants will feature GT2 graphics only. The high-end desktop SKUs will come with TDP in the range of 65-90W while dual-core variants will come with a TDP in the range of 35-65 W. Intel will abandon the FIVR in Skylake-S because it caused some problems in Haswell and Broadwell CPUs.
There is still a fair bit of time left in the launch of Skylake but in my opinion it will better to skip Broadwell for desktop users. The reason is very simple, why spend money on an old tech when you can have the new tech at the same time. Yes, overclockers will definitely jump the Broadwell wagon but if you are using Haswell then jump straight to Skylake in Q3 2015 because Broadwell will not offer much over Haswell.