CES 2017: Intel Kaby Lake Release Finally Puts Skylake Drama to Rest

Posted on January 4, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 25 Comments

CES 2017: Intel Kaby Lake Release Finally Puts Skylake Drama to Rest

Intel this week announced that it has effectively completed the rollout of its 7th generation Core processors, codenamed “Kaby Lake,” with the release of chip designs aimed at desktop PCs, workstations, and high-end laptops.

This release comes five months after the rushed delivery of dual-core Kaby Lake parts aimed at the portable market. As you may recall, Intel’s previous-generation Core processor family, “Skylake,” was it’s buggiest ever. So buggy, in fact, that it doomed Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book to a year of unrelenting reliability problems caused by those chips. And so buggy that Intel changed its processor development schedule, forever dropping the old “tick-tock” release cadence in favor of a new “tick-tock-tock” scheme. So Kaby Lake is just a “tock” to Skylake’s “tock,” a first ever for Intel.

Skylake’s issues were many, but the two that really hurt Surface were related to power management and the difficulties in getting acceptable production yields for such small components. So getting the mobile-oriented Kaby Lake chips out the door quickly made sense, as these chips addressed the power management problems and other bugs while buying Intel time to get its manufacturing problems under control. And so far, it appears that the portable Kaby Lake parts have not suffered from the endemic issues that plagued Skylake.

But the desktop has proven less problematic, in part because power management isn’t as core to the experience as it is on mobile. So this week’s release of Kaby Lake desktop parts is perhaps less essential, but still a step forward to what will ultimately be another major revamp—a “tick”—in the year ahead. That release, called “Cannonlake,” will be based on a 10nm process, compared to the 14nm process used by Broadwell (tick), Skylake (tock), and Kaby Lake (tock).

In any event, Intel now has a (nearly) full family of 7th generation Core processors in both dual- and quad-core configurations, and spanning a variety of power draws. Missing in action, however, are low-end Pentium and Celeron chips, though these could still appear later. Another curious omission: A replacement for the high-end Core i7 5775C with Iris Pro graphics and 128MB of eDRAM-based L4 cache, as Ars Technica’s Peter Bright points out. Maybe the family isn’t so complete after all.

Honestly, this isn’t all that exciting beyond the fact that Intel has finally recovered from its Skylake debacle and can put that ugly past behind it. Well, that and the fact that the rise of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 threatens to eat away at Intel’s PC processor base in 2017. I’ll look at that next.

 

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (27)

27 responses to “CES 2017: Intel Kaby Lake Release Finally Puts Skylake Drama to Rest”

  1. 5394

    Cannonlake a Tick?

    If portable is hard, doesn't make sense to rush it. Maybe they devoted all their time and effort on mobile first, then desktops. 

  2. 2440

    Paul: When you say "(...) ultimately be another major revamp—a “tock”—in the year ahead. That release(...)" shouldn't it be "(...) ultimately be another major revamp—a “tick”—in the year ahead. That release(...)"?

  3. 6358

    As far as I know, Intel delayed Cannonlake because of problems with shrinking to 10 nm, not because Skylake was buggy. They could just have fixed those issues with Cannonlake on the 10 nm process.

  4. 1872

    "Well, that and the fact that the rise of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 threatens to eat away at Intel’s PC processor base in 2017. I’ll look at that next."

    It will be great to have full Windows on ARM soon. At that point we will see what is the real performance difference between Intel and Qualcomm. 

  5. 1534

    The article condemns the Skylake processor but fails to mention that the Skylake issues that plagued Surface products have now been fixed. Everything has worked as it should on my Surface Book i7/16GB/512GB since last June.

  6. 8579

    Tick... Tac... Toe

  7. 5767

    What is with the -Lake naming?

  8. 2968

    Paul, quick edit: "Broadwell (tick), Skylake (tock), and Kaby Lake (tock)." Should be Broadwell (TOCK), Skylake (TICK), and Kaby Lake (TICK).

    • 180

      In reply to yehuda:

      No, Paul is correct. The tick is for the process change. Broadwell took the process down to 12nm, tock for architecture change (Skylake), and then tock again for a tweak to the architecture.

    • 3118

      In reply to yehuda:

      'So this week’s release of Kaby Lake desktop parts is perhaps less essential, but still a step forward to what will ultimately be another major revamp—a “tock”—in the year ahead. That release, called “Cannonlake,” will be based on a 10nm process'

      I think the confusion is Paul refers to the future Cannonlake as a "Tock". I think that should be a "Tick".

  9. 2592

    Cannon Lake won't be out till Fall 2017 at the earliest and even then only the low-power (4.5W / 15W) versions. Coffee Lake is the next CPU aimed at desktop PCs, workstations, and high-end laptops. It is essentially a similar architecture as Cannon Lake but built on the 14nm process, not 10nm & it won't be out till 2018.

    http://wccftech.com/intel-cannonlake-cpu-300-motherboards-2017/

     

  10. 5530

    "Missing in action, however, are low-end Pentium and Celeron chips"

    the low-end Pentium and Celeron chips are not based on Kaby Lake, they use other architecture(s) and those have their own separate roadmaps.

  11. 6166

    It's been nearly a decade, but AMD's finally going to beat Intel. 7700K is kinda meh, just a fixed version of 6700K. I saw Andrew's "very bold" prediction yesterday. The truth is, it's not that bold anymore for anyone keeping a close eye on things. No one expected it, but AMD has done it. I do suspect that as much, Intel has slacked off. Every benchmark out there, including Canard PC (a very reliable magazine) clearly shows AMD Ryzen keeping up with Intel's 8C/16T $1100 6900K. I'm sorry, but the 4C/8T i7 7700K is toast, it'll fall massively short of top-end Ryzen. If AMD prices Ryzen at $300-$400 (which is still margins they have not seen in years) - they'll start eating into Intel. Intel shouldn't be worried, they have the marketing might; but AMD is finally back in the game. It'd be exciting to see Zen in laptops later this year. I would have said AMD has a massive GPU advantage over Intel, but it looks like 8th Gen Intel will feature AMD GPU tech. And then there's the 835 threat. Interesting times indeed.

    • 1959

      In reply to Sen1:

      "Beat Intel" is a pretty serious claim. If you mean they'll have bragging rights for 18 months, while remaining a distant second in terms of sales and consumer awareness, then I suppose that's true. However, they've got a lot of work to do to convince a lot of people that they're worth betting on again. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against AMD. Intel needs competition to get out of the rut of incremental performance increases they've been delivering for the last decade. But when you wake the giant...

  12. 5553

    Qualcomm are never that good Apple and Xynos always beat them.

Leave a Reply