's developer forum back in September, the general manager of the
company's PC Client Group showed off the company's next
generation processor architecture, known as Skylake. He didn't
just hold up a chip; rather, he
a working system powered by a Skylake chip running 3DMark, a
popular performance test that puts significant stress on a
computer's processor and graphics systems.
Now, while Skylake may just seem like "yet another" new Intel
processor that brings performance and power consumption
improvements over the prior generation of chips, leaked
information points to
improvement over the prior generation Broadwell processor.
In short, it's a much bigger deal than some might think.
The biggest improvement? Graphics and media.
Not too much is known about the microarchitecture of the Skylake
processor core beyond the fact that it is a "tock" in
Intel-speak, meaning that it's a bigger improvement over
Broadwell than Broadwell was over Haswell. This is certainly
welcome news, as more processor power is always better, but this
won't be the biggest area of improvement for the chip; graphics
and media seem to be.
The Skylake processor is known to include Intel's next
generation "Gen. 9" integrated graphics processor. Interestingly
enough, according to
, Gen. 9 will include support for "new codec types." The biggest,
and perhaps most important one, seems to be HEVC/H.265 encode and
decode support built into hardware. I recommend reading CNET's
on HEVC/H.265 for why this is such a big deal.
Additionally, once again according to
, Intel will be increasing the maximum graphics performance on
its top-end mobile variant of Skylake. The highest-performing
mobile Skylake chip will feature what Intel calls "GT4e"
graphics, which means that Intel will be adding yet another tier
of graphics performance to its product stack.
Finally, as I
reported that Intel will be including an eDRAM cache on even the
15-watt Skylake chips aimed at Ultrabooks. This could suggest
that the graphics processor on these low-power Skylake chips is
so powerful that Intel needed to include this cache in order to
allow the processor to achieve its full performance
What does this mean for Intel's business?
The hardware H.265/HEVC support should allow for improved power
efficiency when playing videos encoded in the HEVC format, since
dedicated hardware for a task is widely accepted to be more
efficient than doing it in the CPU.
This probably won't be a big
selling point, but given that mobile system-on-chip products like
's Snapdragon 808/810 support HEVC video decoding, Intel needs to
make sure that the PC platform doesn't fall behind mobile devices
in this respect.
Perhaps more important is the new GPU architecture as well as
the increased graphics content on a number of models. If Intel is
able to find customers interested in buying the Skylake chips
with the new GT4e graphics tier, then this should translate into
average selling price upside. Intel is also likely to see average
selling price upside from the inclusion of the eDRAM cache on the
15-watt Skylake parts.
All in all, Skylake looks as though it should bring some
serious performance and feature improvements, notably in
graphics, which should translate into increased revenue per chip
sold. It would seem, at least to this Intel shareholder, that
Skylake is a pretty big deal.
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Intel Corporation's Skylake Is a Bigger Deal Than
You Might Think
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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