Intel has started off 2017 with the announcement of the high end laptop and desktop parts for its Kaby Lake series of processors. The 7th generation Intel processors are built on the 14nm+ process node, and bring some added functionality to the processor family covering a range of form factors from 2-in-1s to detachables to thin and light laptops to mobile workstations to performance AIOs. We have so far seen Kaby Lake only on thin ultraportables and convertibles, but this larger release takes care of most other form factors as well.
Intel announced new parts in the Y-series which will include low power Core m3, Core i5, Core i7 and vPro supporting Core i5 and Core i7 parts which will be used in 2-in-1s, detachables and compute sticks. The U-series is expected to come with 15W and 28W parts with Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics, expected to power thin and light laptops, 2-in-1s, convertibles as well as mini PCs. On the desktop front, you will get the S-Series parts which will cover a wide range going from value to performance to enthusiast desktops, all-in-ones as well as mini PCs. This will include the Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 parts as well as vPro supporting Core i5 and Core i7 parts. Intel also announced two Intel Xeon 45W parts for mobile workstations along with H-series unlocked Intel Core processors for enthusiast and VR capable notebooks.
In all there are 42 processor SKUs that have been announced across the various series mentioned above. Majority of the SKUs are updates of the Skylake chips with changes in clock speeds.
New Chipsets for the 7th gen Intel Core family
With new processors come the new chipsets. Intel is introducing eight new 200-series chipsets across desktop and mobile parts.
Intel Q270 and Q250 chipsets enhance Manageability and Security
Intel Z270 chipset for tuning capabilities with unlocked Intel Core processors (supports 6th gen Skylake processors)
Intel H270 chipset for improving visual display and performance for media creation (supports 6th gen Skylake processors)
Intel B250 chipset to enable performance, manageability and security features useful for small and medium business
Intel CM238, Intel HM175 and Intel QM175 chipsets with fast I/O and other performance benefits as well as sensor support for mobile 7thGen Intel Core and Intel Xeon processors.
Intel Iris Plus graphics
Intel Iris Plus graphics is touted as the major upgrade in the latest generation of processors. The focus is on improved 3D graphics performance, better Quick Sync video and ability to playback and stream 4K content. Intel wants to make virtual reality and augmented reality more mainstream and is focussed on delivering a good experience through Intel 7th gen processor-powered laptops and desktops. Intel also says that it has improved its media engines with support for power-efficient VP9 and HEVC 10-bit hardware acceleration as well as improved 4K viewing and content creation. Intel has also claimed a seamless 1080p graphics experience with Iris Plus graphics on some games.
Intel Optane Memory
Intel Optane memory is the latest feature that is aimed at systems still using hard disk drives or slower SSDs. Storage bottleneck is real and Optane memory aims to resolve that issue by accelerating the HDD seamlessly for the end user. Optane memory uses an intelligent way to manage the files that people use more often. The idea is to improve application load times, startup times and so on. The idea here is similar to using a flash memory component along with mechanical HDDs to improve caching times and in effect overall performance in terms of load times and startup times. It has been done with using cache SSDs as well as with SSHDs. Optane Memory takes that concept to the next level.
Intel’s Optane technology (a.k.a 3D Xpoint) is a 3D transistor technology that is claimed to be up to 1000x faster than regular NAND memory that is employed in SSDs. Optane Memory cannot be used as a separate SSD however, but as a faster caching element in the equation. Desktop motherboard partners can also add in an Optane Ready module on the M.2 connector.
“With Intel Optane Memory Ready motherboards and systems one can add Intel Optane memory purchased aftermarket for a snappy PC experience with short boot times, fast application launches, and to help accelerate day-to-day compute tasks,” says the release.
Security – Intel Authenticate Technology and more
Intel stressed a lot on the security aspect of its processors as well. The 7th gen Intel Core vPro processors come with hardware level security features. For instance, “Intel Authenticate Technology provides a robust multifactor solution that is protected in hardware, reducing users’ exposure to identity theft attacks such as phishing and screen scraping. With fingerprint, Bluetooth proximity, protected PIN, location, and facial recognition, there are plenty of options for policy customisation on PCs.”
There will be a push towards having a combination of biometric and hardware based security features to ensure identity protection. Intel is also working with vendors to enable secure-fingerprint touch to pay and Secure Guest Checkout which comes with underlying hardware level data security for verification purposes. Intel also spoke about having hardened password managers, which means that all passwords could be managed by one master password which would be stored in hardware. Intel Authenticate will also be paired with Windows Hello. It is also working with applications to offer two factor authentication. Dropbox is one company it mentioned in its address.
Intel spoke about Project Evo where it is working with partners such as Microsoft to develop technologies that touch on multiple aspects. This will incorporate features such as immersive gaming experiences, artificial intelligence powered assistants such as Cortana, improved security features and improved radio connectivity – stressing on the transition from LTE to 5G.