Intel has released the desktop version of Intel’s new 7th generation of their Core processors, named Kaby Lake, was officially launched on January 3, 2017 marking a decisive end to the “tick-tock” strategy that they have been using for years which was used to alternate between manufacturing processors and updating the architecture of the processors. In the perspective used, the Intel’s 5th generation Broad well processors were the “tick”, and the 6th generation Skylake processors were the “tock”.
The delays caused the Intel’s originally planning on moving from Skylake to Cannonlake, using a 10nm process, to switch to Kaby Lake processors, using the same 14nm process, with very few optimizations to make their performance better in comparison to Skylake processors.
Below are comparisons between the major changes, and the similarities between Intel Kaby Lake processors, and Intel Skylake processors which will attract people who create and/or consume a lot more 4K:
The Intel Kaby Lake’s 4K Ready Processors
The Kaby Lake processor is one of the major points when it comes with native support for HEVC encoding and decoding for 4K videos. The Kaby Lake 4K processor hand over its tasks to the GPU, instead of utilizing its own cores, which ultimately means that 4K videos can stream much better with usage of very less battery. And also, it leaves the cores free to do other tasks since the CPU isn’t being used for the 4K heavy-lifting.
Keeping aside leaving the processor cores free, the Kaby lake also uses less energy, which is why the systems running on Kaby Lake processors have, on an average, a 2.6 times better battery life than other systems when working on the 4K content.
The users can also feel a drastic improvement in the 3D graphics performance and a better game performance which is offered by Kaby Lake in comparison to older generation processors.
Gives Native Support for Newer Formats
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The Kaby Lake processors support the USB 3.1 Gen 2, with a bandwidth of 10Gbps, which is 2 times higher than the USB 3.0 standard being used currently. The 7th generation processors have native support for 4K HEVC used for encoding and decoding at 10-bit depths and also the VP9 decoding capabilities which is the two things completely missing from the Skylake generation processors.
Along with that, Kaby Lake processors also support HDCP 2.2. HDCP, it’s an acronym for High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection which is a form of digital copy protection developed by Intel that is mainly used to prevent copying of digital audio and video files when they travel across connections. This is mostly done by the transmitter when first checking if the receiver has the authorization to access the content. And if the receiver is authorized, then the transmitter proceeds to encrypt the content, so that it cannot eavesdrop on the connection.
Kaby Lake, the seventh generation processors will also have support for Intel Optane, an Intel’s branding for storage devices that will use the 3D XPoint called 3 D Cross Point technology. The processors throughputs and write durability on storage devices uses an Intel Optane which is as much as 1000 times higher than traditional flash storages, and latency is 10 times lower than NAND SSDs.
Also Read: Top 5 Best Mobile Processors
Faster Clock Speed Changes and Higher Turbo Boost Frequencies
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For the Kaby Lake, Intel is basically optimizing the architecture they used in Skylake to make the clock speed faster with an increased turbo boost. Even though, it isn’t quite clear about the changes that will affect the real world, the benchmark results obtained after the Intel released are promising. Since same architecture is used, the only way that Intel has actually improved and made a good Kaby Lake processors’ is its performance as compared to Skylake, with its optimizations, tweaks, and improvements under-the-hood.
With all those improvements and optimizations, there is the one thing about the Kaby Lake processors is that, it will shift between clock speeds much faster than their Skylake counterparts and also, the seventh-gen processors feature a higher base clock speed with a even better gain under Turbo Boost.
The Skylake branded processors uses m3, m5 and m7 whereas Kaby Lake has changed the m5, and m7 to simply i5, and i7which makes it rather difficult for the average consumer to know whether they are buying a device with a Core m processor, or one with the much more powerful Core i3, 5, 7 processors.
Kaby Lake is an Optimized Version of Skylake
The 7th Generation Kaby Lake also has some significant improvements in comparison Skylake. Nevertheless, many of these improvements are not forcing the average users to upgrade their Skylake processor equipped systems to the equipped with Kaby Lake. Certainly with native support for HEVC for encoding and decoding of 4K streams, the market is going to be vast for Kaby Lake processors among people who create and/or consume a lot of 4K content, however Skylake is still applicable and relevant for the average users and upgrading to a Kaby Lake processor, won’t be worth the price.
It is not that Kaby Lake is not a worthy upgrade to Skylake. The various “under-the-hood” improvements made to the processor has made it up to 2.6 times better battery life when consuming 4K content because of the fact that Kaby Lake processors will use the GPU to complete all the tasks related to handling 4K video, which means that the processor cores will be cooler as there is consumption of less power and also is made available for other tasks.
Other Available Features with Kaby Lake and Skylake
Kaby Lake has some additional improved features over its predecessor Skylake. Since both the Skylake and Kaby Lake processors have potential 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU, the new generation Kaby Lake can have up to 24 PCIe lanes from Platform Controller Hub, while Skylake can only have 20 PCIe lanes from Platform Controller Hub. The Kaby Lake processors are also called “Union Point”, being a part of the Intel 200 Series chipset, whereas its Skylake counterparts were also called “Sunrise Point, being a part of Intel 100 Series chipset. The Kaby Lake processors also have a feature of wide range of TDP which ranges from 3.5 W up to 95 W. The common features among both the generations of processors is the support for up to 4 cores in the mainstream processors i.e. 64 to 128 MB L4 cache memory.
The other key feature with Kaby Lake is that it supports Thunderbolt 3 technology which is an improvement to Intel’s Speed Shift Technology, which was first introduced with Skylake. There is also less time for the CPU to transition from one frequency to another, which ultimately results in improved response when loading a web page, switching between applications, and other short workloads.