Intel KabyLake: What should you expect?

Intel KabyLake, the new lineup of 14nm CPUs, was apparently previewed at IDF last week but the attendees had to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) so they couldn’t talk about it. Nonetheless, it has ended today and the new lineup that would finally break the old Intel “Tick Tock” cycle is here.

“What is Tick Tock? And what’s Intel using instead now?”

Tick Tock is a fancy naming scheme for Intel’s plan for a certain process node (i.e. 14nm, 28nm etc…) which consisted of implementing a new lithography every two generation: At first what would happen is they release the first batch of said process node size on a new gen and refine it and make small improvements in the next gen, just like what happened with Ivy-Bridge and Haswell: Intel released their first 22nm CPUs with Ivy-Bridge then followed it up with another generation on the same process node but with small improvements on Haswell.
Intel decided it’s been long overdue and they changed it to a three-way roadmap under the name of “Process, Architecture, Optimize”. And just like that name implies, the first gen, in the case of 14nm, would be an introduction to the process node shrink which was Broadwell which everyone glossed over and didn’t care about,
“Architecture”, which would be an architectural revision and refinement and then “Optimize” to try and get those small optimizations in features or TDP or whatever they want (And they decided to put a plus after the node size now!)

We’ve been around the bush for so long let’s talk KabyLake now. What should you expect? Frankly… Nothing much…

This is a graph that shows the power efficiency improvements from gen to gen but nothing much about performance itself

KL Image 1

They’ve got their new “Y” lineup of low-power CPUs that output only 4.5W kitted with the new Intel HD Grtaphics 615 iGPU, nothing special. They have their “U” 15W lineup aswell, but this time equipped with the Intel HD Graphics 620 iGPU which, according to Paul’s Hardware, was showcased at the event being able to play Overwatch, at 1080P, at medium to high settings with no noticeable lag and about 30 FPS.

Architecturally, Intel has been moving now to a design called a trigate design as explain in the following picture

7th Gen Intel Core processors deliver richer experiences, incredible performance and responsiveness, and true ultra HD 4K entertainment in stunning new devices. (Credit: Intel Corporation)
7th Gen Intel Core processors deliver richer experiences, incredible performance and responsiveness, and true ultra HD 4K entertainment in stunning new devices. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Unfortunately this isn’t going to be present in KabyLake, but just rather some new general improvements to the architecture.

The bad news don’t stop there, since the desktop grade CPUs won’t arrive until months after the release of the U and Y SKUs. Expect them to ship in Q1 2017.

Intel has also added some quite neat features such “SpeedShift” which is a faster and steadier TurboBoost that takes place when you try to run something like a web browser while your CPU was idling.

SpeadShit

KabyLake is also fully supporting 4K HDR playback now alongside reduced power consumption while watching any VP9 or HEVC content

You can learn more in Tom’s Hardware’s article here

I personally was quite disappointed and didn’t feel encouraged at all to even keep updated with this gen of CPUs. I think Intel realized that they can’t bother anymore since they have no competition. AMD Zen will be the real deal…

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