New Intel Skylake Processors Launched

At the beginning of month the BBC highlighted Intel’s announcement that it is launching its newest range of processors codenamed Skylake. The new processors will be on sale later this year. In the coming months Intel plans to release around 50 different variants of these Skylake processors. 

Targets

The new “sixth generation” processors are targeted at everything from powerful gaming rigs, computers the size of a USB stick, and of course smart phones. The advantages of the new processors are improved performance, longer battery life and better graphics-power thanks to a new micro architecture.

Although the processors have a wide number of applications one particular niche market that has been targeted with this processor is the ‘extreme gamers’ who frequently overclock their devices by pushing the processors to the limit.

Strengths and Opportunities

The main strengths of the new processors are:

A reduced power requirement - an estimated 60% power reduction on 5th generation cores. This will mean that with more or less the same weight of battery in devices you can get approximately 12 hours of battery life. 

They can drive the development of more consumer friendly design forms in devices e.g. devices using the processors that don’t need a fan can be smaller and lighter. 

The processors have a Speed Shift function that allows them to reduce the amount of time that they keep running at their most power hungry frequencies. This means that there is an estimated 60% increase in performance in Skylake over 5th generation core processors. 

The new processors are more in line with today’s habits of increasingly watching video streams, playing video games and doing other things that involve lots of graphics. The new processors have improved graphics performance, can handle the new H.265 video codec. 4k videos, can be streamed using less data but maintaining high picture quality, and at several times the resolution of 1080p high definition ones.

Opportunities

It is widely believed by many analysts that even though Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to Windows 10, many people will want to upgrade on a new computer.There are a very large number of computers out there that are at least 4 years old now - the number is estimated at 500 million! This means a large potential global market for Skylake. 

Threats and Challenges

The market however may not be easy to convince in the first instance that there is a need to switch to the new processors. Threats and challenges for Intel include:

Today’s households being knowledgeable enough not to simply buy a whole new PC when they just want to upgrade the operating system. 

Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade to consumers coming with the suggestion that the software shouldn’t require more from your computer’s processor than Windows 7 or Windows 8. 

Slowdowns in several of the world’s key markets e.g. China, possibly causing a delay to any large scale processor upgrading. 

One real challenge for Intel is to ensure that production of the chips goes smoothly. The releases of some of its earlier Broadwell chips for example were reported to have been held up due to production issues.

The Promotional Message 

Intel’s suggested promotional message for device manufacturers for the new processors is to focus on the add-on facilities i.e. what consumers can do differently with their devices rather than the processors spec. This could include innovations like:

An Intel RealSense depth camera allowing users log into a Windows 10 computer by looking at the sensor. 

Allowing users to wake a computer with their voice thanks to support for the firm's Ready Mode technology. 

Plug in cables will not be needed to connect laptops and tablets to external displays and other peripherals due to the addition of a WiGig chip.