New 7th generation Intel CPUs will be hitting the market in laptops and desktops this fall. More powerful enthusiast grade versions can be expected early 2017.
Intel’s ‘Tick Tock” release model meant Kaby Lake chip sets were never supposed to happen. The Tick Tock model saw the chip manufacturer release a shrunken version of the previous generation’s microarchitecture during years denoted by the “tick”, and followed up with a completely new microarchitecture a year later- the “tock”. The release of Intel’s 6th generation Skylake chipset last September meant this year was supposed to be an a “tick”, but instead we got a “tick-Tock-Tock”.
When Intel announced Kaby Lake the tech community saw it as a halt in Moore’s Law- the 7th generation will continue to use a 14nm architecture very similar to Skylake. Consumers will now have to wait until late 2017 for Intel’s Cannonlake chipsets to re-introduce the “tick” and die-shrink Kaby Lake down to a 10nm architecture. Intel themselves have agreed that Moore’s Law has slowed down significantly, and is now closer to a 2.5-year turnaround than the original 2.
With that said, Kaby lake is still expected to make some great improvements over Skylake. The 7th generation chipsets bring better efficiency and performance as expected, but also gains hardware encoding and decoding capabilities for 8 to 10-bit VP9 video and 10-bit HEVC 4K video. HDR and a wide colour gamut is also being supported by the hardware this generation. Creative professionals and will benefit significantly from how the new chips handle 4K- specifically during streaming and rendering activities. Intel also showed off the CPU’s much-improved gaming performance, limiting the need for discrete graphic cards when handling AAA titles at low to medium settings.
As with previous generational leaps, Intel will begin rolling out “Y” and “U” Laptop spec chips this fall, with desktop class CPUs hitting the market later in January 2017. The Y-series chips are hallmarked by their thin and power efficient design-drawing only 4.5 watts of power, and will be found in ultraportable laptop variants. The U-series on the other hand are performance oriented chips that will be found in Laptops that will not be scrutinized on size. The 7th generation Kaby lake processors have retained the Core M3 processors introduced last year but have dumped the Core M5 and M7 versions.
If you are in the market to buy a Notebook, it may be a good idea to wait for Kaby Lake spec models to roll out this fall. Increased performance and better battery efficiency alone are solid reasons to wait for the upgrade. Desktop users on the other hand will be kept waiting a couple months longer because there is no official word on desktop class chips as of this writing- but their expected early 2017.