Last month, we finally got our first look at Intel's latest 14nm technology for desktop computers when we tested the Core i7-5775C, codenamed Broadwell. The transition from Intel to the 14nm node was difficult, and as a result, Broadwell processors were delayed to the point where they practically no longer exist in the retail market.
Even when I write this, it is extremely difficult to buy the Core i7-5775C. This is all the more surprising as I write about it: Today, the 14nm desktop processors from Intel have really arrived and they are not called Broadwell, but Skylake.
|Year of publication||Microarchitecture||Tick or tock||Process node|
While Broadwell was a "tick" in Intel's "tick-tock" manufacturing and design model and offered a chip shrink with a few minor changes, Skylake is a "tick", meaning the redesign means a higher CPU and GPU -Performance with reduced power consumption should and remains in the same 14 nm manufacturing process as Broadwell.
In particular, the usual "tick tock" cycle 2016 is interrupted with a third 14 nm part, known as Kaby Lake. Intel says the transition to 10nm chips will now be later than expected and postponed to the second half of 2017, when a new architecture, code-named Cannonlake, will appear.
As we understand it, this is a rough start and Skylake processors should be available immediately, at least the chips will be announced anyway. However, it is rumored that supplies will only last a few days and will run dry before the end of the starting week. Again, the lack of supply is likely due to problems with the 14nm process, and it's not uncommon for new CPUs and GPUs to be plagued by such problems.
Skylake introduces a number of significant changes, including the introduction of the new LGA1151 socket, which is backwards compatible with nothing that was previously available, as you may have guessed.
Unlike Broadwell, users with a 9-series motherboard cannot simply upgrade to Skylake, but need a new motherboard that supports an Intel 100-series chipset, also known as Sunrise Point.
The memory controller on the Skylake processors has been updated to support DDR4 memory, similar to Haswell-E, although support is limited to dual-channel rather than quad.
Unlike Haswell-E, Skylake processors also seem to support DDR3 memory. So it is up to the motherboard manufacturers to decide which memory standard to use, and we will likely see a variety of DDR3 and DDR4 boards. It will be interesting to see if there are boards that support both DDR3 and DDR4 DIMMs, as we saw in the Core 2 days with boards that offer both DDR2 and DDR3.
Get to know the Skylake K-SKUs
While there will undoubtedly be a full range of Skylake processors spanning multiple series, just like Haswell, Intel is currently announcing only two chips. The first wave was developed for enthusiasts and includes the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K desktop processors.
Intel claims that these parts will deliver up to 10% better performance than their Haswell counterparts. According to Intel, the Core i7-6700K will be up to 10% faster than the 4790K and 20% faster than the 4770K, while 3770K owners can expect an increase in performance of up to 30%.
|Fundamental frequency||4.0 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.3 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Maximum turbo frequency||4.2 GHz||3.9 GHz||3.7 GHz||4.4 GHz|
|graphic||HD graphics 530||HD graphics 530||Iris Pro 6200||HD graphics 4600|
|Graphics frequency||1150 MHz||1150 MHz||1150 MHz||1250 MHz|
|L3 cache||8 MB||6 MB||6 MB||8 MB|
|L4 cache (eDRAM)||N / A||N / A||128 MB||N / A|
|Price||$ 350||$ 243||$ 276||$ 339|
The Core i7-6700K, which we have available today, works with a base clock of 4.0 GHz, which corresponds to the same base clock frequency as the 4790K. However, the maximum turbo frequency was limited to 4.2 GHz, while the 4790K can clock a single core at up to 4.4 GHz.
As you'd expect, the 6700K is a quad-core processor that supports Hyper-Threading technology and offers eight threads. Like the Haswell processors, the Skylake models also receive the Intel Smart Cache L3. This enables faster data access by dynamically and efficiently mapping the cache to the needs of each core, significantly reducing latency for commonly used data and improving performance.
Like the 4790K, the 6700K receives an 8 MB L3 cache, while the Core i5-6600K manages with a slightly smaller 6 MB cache, similar to the Core i5-4690K.
Skylake still has 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, which means that a single GPU in a 1×16 configuration can connect to the CPU, while two-way Crossfire or SLI use the 2×8 configuration.
As previously mentioned, memory support is limited to dual-channel operation, which has been the case with Intel's mainstream platforms for years. That said, while the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K can use DDR3L-1600 memory, it can also support DDR4-2133, and this will likely be the preferred option.
Although Broadwell processors like the Core i7-5775C may not have played a major role on a large scale, this was the built-in Iris Pro Graphics 6200. The massive 128MB L4 cache (eDRAM) was a serious issue as it matches the 5775C with the world's fastest integrated graphics solution.
The 6700K's solution doesn't appear to be nearly as complex, but to be honest we don't know much about its technical specifications, as nobody at Intel or the PR company we dealt with was able to answer any of our questions.
Read also: Almost 10 years of Intel CPUs compared, from Conroe to Haswell
The PR marketing material only mentions an Intel HD Graphics 530 solution that supports DX12, Ultra HD 4K resolution and operates at up to 1150 MHz. It is said to be 40% faster than the Core i7-3770K's HD Graphics 4000, which is somewhat accidental.
Intel did not provide us with a die shot of the 6700K, but as far as we can tell, the L4 cache is not included in this model. GPUz reports that the HD Graphics 530 offers 24 EUs, 16 TMUs and 8 ROPs. This is the same configuration as the Iris Pro 6200 on the 5775C, but there is simply not enough bandwidth available without the L4 cache.
As the process progressed, these processors were rated for a fairly high TDP of 91 watts, which is slightly higher than the 88 watts of their Haswell equivalents, and this is likely due to the inclusion of a significantly more powerful GPU.
According to Intel, the recommended retail price for the 6700K is $ 350, while the 6600K will be significantly cheaper at $ 243. In comparison, the 4790K are currently sold for $ 340 and the 4690,000 for $ 240. So it looks like Skylake processors are offered at prices similar to their Haswell predecessors.
Both support the LGA1151 socket, which requires a brand new motherboard and chipset. Speaking of which, let's take a look at the Intel Z170 chipset on the new Asrock Z170 Gaming K6 motherboard.