Over the last 4 months I’ve been dealing with what I can buy now and what is the best for the money. But, when considering what to buy it makes sense to look ahead. Earlier I wrote about looking at AMD CPU’s and what they have coming. Now I’ll write about what Intel has coming.Intel’s 6th generation CPU’s are about a year old now. So, what do they have in their pipeline? For 2017 it is Kaby Lake… In January 2017 we will see Kaby Lake chips coming out for phones and tablets, Later in the year for laptops and even later for desktops. These will be 7th generation iCore CPU’s in the 7### series of i3, i5, and i7 CPU’s.
If you’re not aware Intel uses a TIC-TOC release cycle. On the TIC count they release a CPU using smaller transistors. It is called die-size. They are down to 14nm now with Skylake, the iCore 6### series. On the TOC they release the same size transistors in a new architecture. The redesign how the CPU works. The cycle repeats and in the next TIC they shrink the CPU transistors making the architecture smaller, faster, and more power efficient.
With Kaby Lake they are changing that cycle. We will see a TIC-tic-TOC cycle. On the ‘tic’ stutter the changes will be in the manufacturing process. There is no architecture change nor a size change. If that sounds odd, consider.
As chips are made now the process is designed to manufacture the top speed chips. Once manufactured they are tested to see how fast they can run. Can this particular chip run at top speed without problems? If yes, then it is packaged as a top rated 4.0GHz chip and they charge more for it.
If it fails, then it is packaged as a slower chip and sold for less. But, they all came out of the same manufacturing process, assembly-line if you will.
The combination of sales from fast, medium, and slow CPU’s has to pay for the development and manufacturing of the chip design. If they can improve the quality of the process they can get more fast chips. It seems Intel thinks they can do that and market those faster chips.
If they can, we will see 4.2GHz and Turbo 4.5GHz Kaby Lake CPU’s. Bet on CAN.
My 3.5Ghz i5-6600K will have its younger brother a 3.8GHz i5-7600K. As best I can tell the 7600 will be the same CPU architecture and size, just faster.
Some gamers expect they can push these new CPU’s to 5GHz, overclocking. I have found my 3.5GHz i5 starts to have problems at 4.4GHz without voltage tweaking.
When new Intel CPU’s come out the supporting chips on the motherboard usually upgrade too. My i5 uses a z170 chip set on the motherboard. The new 7th gen CPU’s will use z270 or more generically the 200 series chipsets.
The 7th gen CPU’s will still use the LGA 1151 CPU socket. The 200 series chips add 4 more PCIe channels and handle faster speeds. Otherwise there is little change from the 6th gen CPU and 100 series chipsets.
This means the 6th Gen and 7th Gen CPU’s will both be compatible with 100 and 200 series motherboards. If you plan to run 2 video cards and hook in M.2 SSD, you’ll be wanting those extra PCIe channels and it may worth your time to wait for 200 series motherboards.
Rumor is a new Skylake 6th gen is in the works that will ONLY run on 200 series boards. So, the line between what runs on what is fuzzy.
Rumor is some z270 motherboards will be out in October 2016. They will be running 6th gen CPU’s until the Kaby Lake CPU’s make it out. So, there is a better upgrade path I’ve missed out on.
The big reason to go with a z270 motherboard is the support for coming new SSD technology. You’ll be able to use the faster SSD’s that are coming. Rumor says Intel will release a new SSD tech they call 3D XPoint named Optane for marketing. Speed should jump up by a factor of 7. Now that is significant and the rumored October release is a short wait to get that capability.
You’ll hear the new Optane SSD’s are 1,000x faster… but, they are always unclear about faster than what. The same game played any many places. Pick a beginning point that makes the end point look best.
AMD and Intel are competing. Kaby Lake is Intel’s answer to AMD’s Zen. So, which is worth waiting on? Neither. There is always something to wait on. After Kaby comes Coffee Lake (2018) and then Cannonlake (TBA). You can wait forever trying to get the best.
If you are ready to buy a CPU and motherboard now, both Kaby and Zen are looking like mid to late 2017 hardware. AMD may get their Zen out a bit ahead of Intel. I think Intel would then rush to get theirs out and capture those sales.
In the world of hardware there is a counterintuitive oddity people in the trades have recognized for decades. The company that upgrades LAST has the competitive advantage… He who upgrades first… sucks to be them. It’s a first liar type thing.
One has to work hard to take advantage of their upgrade in the time available before the competition upgrades. Those that can plan their upgrades to happen shortly after the competition upgrades have a competitive advantage. Intel has been in the driver’s seat for a time now.
It will be interesting to see if AMD can break out of the cycle of second place they seem to have been trapped in by Intel.