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Intel’s Kaby Lake processors: The last gasp of the 14 nm architecture?

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So Intel’s next generation processors that are being labeled as Kaby Lake have been hogging all the limelight of late. Much is always made of every new generation of Intel processors, considering the profound impact they have on our computing habits, but the Kaby Lake series is attracting even greater attention than usual.

The chips have already been bundled out to manufacturers and Intel says that they may start appearing in PCs as early as this fall. Lets take a look at what we already know about the Kaby Lake series of processors.

Alright. So Kaby Lake is the successor to Intel’s 6th-gen “Skylake” processors from back in 2015. Obviously, we can expect a significant bit of performance upgrade, which in itself is saying something for Kapy Lake’s capabilities. However, Intel’s newest chip are also heralding a significant bit of departure from tradition as they are not featuring a new architecture — which is how the company usually upgrades its chips over successive generations.

Architecture changes aside, Intel is also going with the same 14 nm circuit size that was deployed in the i6. The company is actually rumored to be trying to get down to 10 nm but, that is quite another story called Cannonlake. Meanwhile, what we do know for sure are no major architectural changes and a circuit size that remains constant at 14 nm.

However, that doesn’t mean that Kaby Lake should be ignored. Far from it. Even if you are prepared to discount the fact that Intel refereed to the series as  “the highest performance CPU Intel has ever built”, you just can not close your eyes to the fact that the 2016 Intel Developer Forum featured an exceptionally thin laptop with the Kaby Lake inside, run Overwatch pretty smoothly. Without any external assistance from AMD or Intel! Now if a chip can run a game as resource intensive as Overwatch on a laptop that thin, well that is one chip to watch out for.

We are also hearing indications of the fact that the Kaby Lake series of processors will be able to play and edit 4K video in real time. Yet another testament to the series’s graphic handling capabilities. Also, the new Kaby Lake desktop chips will reportedly use the same socket type (LGA1151) as the current 6th-generation Skylake hardware does. So if you have recently purchased a machine, a BIOS update should be the only thing required to enable it to rock a Kaby Lake processor.

Meanwhile, Intel seems to have decided to let go of the Tick-Tock approach in favor of smaller, semi-annual upgrades. By Tick-Tock, we mean the approach where the company made reductions in the process size (Tick) followed by architectural changes (Tock). Instead, the company has added another optimization stage and drawn out the process into a trio of steps. The Kaby Lake is very likely to be this last, optimization step for the 14 nm series before the company moves into 10 nm.

We will know more about Kaby Lake soon, as manufacturers start advertising devices that pack this series of processors inside. Meanwhile, if you are wondering about weather you should upgrade your system or not — its a very personal decision that should also take the amount of money you are willing to spend on your PC, into account. Upgrading to Kaby Lake is likely to bring at least some performance upgrades along with better battery performance. However, if you are expecting a particularly drastic change in your machine’s operating capabilities, well you may need to knock down your expectations by a few notches.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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