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Intel 7th Gen Core Processor Family – aka Kaby Lake

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As many of you probably already know Intel’s 7th generation Core processors codenamed “Kaby Lake” aren’t far away. Built on the 14 nanometer design process Kaby Lake will be the  successor to the Skylake .

Initially Skylake was to be succeeded by the 10 nanometer Cannonlake architecture. However way back in July 2015, Intel announced that Cannonlake would be delayed until the second half of 2017.

Now in the 3rd quarter of 2016 many enthusiasts are hotly anticipating the arrival of Kaby Lake. Well today Intel is officially announcing the release of their 7th generation Core processors, though not the desktop parts many of you will be interested in.

Rather today marks the arrival of the mobile processor from the U, ultra-low power and Y, extremely low power series.These processors feature a TDP ranging from 4.5w up to 15w and are intended to power 2 in 1s and ultrathin notebooks.

Unfortunately the enthusiast grade desktop and notebook processors that I, and probably most of you, are interested in won’t be arriving until next year. Intel has officially stated a January 2017 release for their more serious 7th generation Core processors.

Another 5 month wait probably isn’t what you wanted to hear and this means Kaby Lake should be arriving around the same time as AMD’s hugely anticipated Zen processors… exciting times ahead indeed.

For now we have the low-powered Kaby Lake processors to give us some insight into the kind of improvements Intel has made to their latest microarchitecture.

The Headline…

The headline here being that Intel is claiming a 12% performance increase over Skylake. In fact Intel says the Core i7-7500U will be up to 12% faster than the i7-6500U for productivity tasks based on performance seen when testing with SYSmark 2014. Though I should point out that there is up to a 13% difference in operating frequency between these two processors in favor of the 7500U, so you have to wonder how much difference the updated architecture makes here.

Comparing the same processors Intel says the i7-7500U will be up to 19% faster for web based applications. These claims are based on WebXPRT 2015 performance and again with up to a 13% clock speed advantage we wonder just how much faster the 7th gen processor really is.

Intel also claims there will be significant productivity and responsiveness gains over 6th Gen processors.

They even go as far as to say Kaby Lake is built using the 14nm plus process. Although they didn’t say exactly what the changes are, they claimed that the 14nm process used for Kaby Lake is so well refined that when compared to the 14nm process for Skylake, it warrants the plus.

The Focus….

The focus for these low powered chips has been on improving 4K video playback along with 360-degree videos and multiple video stream performance. Included is a new media engine built upon the Gen9 graphics architecture. There is also support for a new HEVC 10-bit decode capability. This should enable smooth premium playback for 4K content. Likewise the new VP9 decode capability should provide power efficient smooth 4K 360-degree playback while multitasking. The improved power efficiency means that ultra portable devices can run for up to nine and a half hours playing 4K content, before sucking the battery dry.

As far as the product line up and availability goes you should start seeing devices featuring Core m3, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7, 7th generation processors. Intel expects their OEM partners to start shipping 7th gen enabled system to users by early September.

What are the Processors?

So what are the processors you can expect to see? From the Y-series there are three new processors, the Core i7-7Y75, Core i5-7Y54 and Core m3-7Y30. All three are dual-core processors with HyperThreading for four threads. The key difference being their operating frequency. The i7-7Y75 features a base clock of 1.3GHz with a maximum single core frequency of 3.6GHz. The i5-7Y54 can crank up to 3.2GHz and the m3-7Y30 just 2.6GHz.

Then there is the U-series which sports the Core i7-7500U, Core i5-7200U and Core i3-7100U. Again these are all dual-core processors boasting 4-threads. The only noteworthy differences are the frequencies, though I should note Intel doesn’t list the capacity of the various caches.

The i3-7100U is locked at 2.4GHz while the i5-7200U can run as fast as 3.1GHz and the i7-7500U up to 3.5GHz.

Intel suggests a price of $281 for the Core i5, Core i3 and Core m3 processors while the Core i7 models costs $393 US.

Both the Y-series and U-series processors have integrated platform input/output. The Y-series and premium U-series processors support three independent displays, RAID and AHCI support, Intel’s Smart Response Technology, High Definition Audio, Smart Sound Technology, up to 6 USB 3.0 ports and four SATA 6Gbps ports. The baseline U-series processors drop RAID support, Intel’s Smart Response Technology, support just four USB 3.0 ports and two SATA 6Gbps ports.

Overall it is an interesting lineup from Intel and I am keen to see just how well devices sporting these 7th generation Core processors perform. What do you guys think of this news? Let me know in the comments.

Matt Knuppel Matt is a tech enthusiast, gym owner, and very part time gamer. In between making tech videos, he can be found watching the UFC, NBA, and AFL, as well as at music festivals and deep down rabbit holes on reddit.

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