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Intel readies complete line-up of 6th-generation Core Skylake CPUs for laptops, tablets & hybrids

Tom Morgan
2 Sep 2015
Intel Skylake processor die diagram
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Intel’s 6th-generation Core processors make their way to mobile today with Y-series, U-series, S-series and H-series CPUs

Intel has officially revealed its 6th generation Core processor line-up for mobile devices, with something for everyone throughout the range - including ultra-low power chips for tablets, two-chip designs with powerful integrated graphics, and even the first unlocked chip designed exclusively for overclockers to squeeze out extra performance.

According to Intel’s research, 2-in-1 devices are booming in popularity, with over 80 different models available earlier this year from different manufacturers. That looks set to grow again this week at IFA, now that the Y-series and U-series CPUs are public knowledge. The Y-series Core M is Intel’s most power-efficient Core processor yet, with a very low Thermal Design Point (TDP) of 4.5w. The processor die is 35% smaller than the one used for the previous generation (Broadwell) which means it should fit into smaller form factors, without the need for active cooling. There will be three tiers; M3 for the entry-level, M5 for mid-range devices and M7 for the top-end, but all three will most likely be reserved for tablets and inexpensive 2-in-one devices.

The U-series is a step up, and is better suited to larger hybrids and ultra-portable laptops. The TDP might step up to 15w, meaning a CPU fan will be required, but that also creates plenty of overhead for graphics capabilities. HD Graphics 520 will likely be considered the ‘standard’ for this range, but Intel’s Iris graphics brand will now be available too - previously it was restricted to 28w TDP parts. 

Either way, Intel expects around a 30% performance improvement over last year’s Broadwell chips. The new integrated graphics are also more suited to high-resolution displays, with the ability to run a 3,200x1,800 panel using only 1.2x the power needed to run a 2,560x1,440 panel.


Intel Skylake mobile processor line-up

The H-series is currently the the top of the mobile pile, with a 45w TDP that leaves significant overheads for graphics or Turbo Boost clock speeds. Unlike the other chips, here the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) is a separate package in order to squeeze the most performance from the processor itself. This has allowed intel to make its first mobile quad-core i5 CPU, which it promises will be up to 60% faster in multi-threaded applications versus the old dual-core models, and even the its first K-unlocked chip for overclockers. HD Graphics 530s integrated graphic, which has the ability to run three 4K monitors at 60 frames per second, is an integral part to the design.

Skylake brings other improvements and upgrades beyond processing and graphics power, including the Thunderbolt 3 I/O interface, which has a potential throughput of 40Gbit/s and uses the reversible USB Type-C connector for extra convenience. PCI Express storage is also better supported, which should mean even faster boot up times and file transfers on compatible hardware.

Intel expects devices powered by U-series processors to start shipping very soon, although other models may be closer to the end of the year. A complete list of processor models wasn’t available at the time of writing, but with IFA kicking off in earnest tomorrow and press conferences from the likes of Acer, Asus, Toshiba and more in the diary, expect to see plenty of Skylake-powered devices to be revealed in the next 24 hours.