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Intel's new Kaby Lake chips for PC: Here's the company's vision

Agam Shah | Aug. 31, 2016
The Kaby Lake chips, targeted at PCs, could also be used in VR and AR headsets

Around that time, gamers should be able to get their hands on super-fast Intel SSDs called Optane, based on a groundbreaking 3D Xpoint technology.

Over time, Kaby Lake will be installed in Intel's thumb-sized Compute Sticks and mini-desktops called NUCs. The chip will support Chrome OS, Walker said, meaning Kaby Lake will also be available for Chromebooks.

Intel's PC future also includes VR and augmented reality headsets, though details on the chip strategy for those devices are grainy. The company doesn't make chips specifically for headsets, but some use PC-based, low-power Atom and Core chips. 

At the recent Intel Developer Forum, Intel stunned the audience with its Project Alloy mixed reality headset. It included a Core chip code-named Skylake, and the device gave a subtle hint on the direction of Intel's PC chips.

To be certain, the Project Alloy headset was a prototype, and its specifications aren't finalized. But it raises a question: Will VR and AR headsets have Kaby Lake chips someday? Intel made no promises, but it's a possibility.

"Many of the power-performance attributes that 7th Generation [chips] have could be used in the future," Walker said.

Specifications for Alloy will be released later. Alloy will use Windows Holographic, and possibly other platforms, to run AR applications.

Intel's low-end Core Y processors, which consume 4.5 watts of power, could be used in headsets. They can handle 4K graphics, critical for VR headsets. The headsets won't match the experience of an Oculus Rift, but the performance should be good enough to stream movies from the internet.

Beyond content consumption, Kaby Lake PCs could be powerful content creation tools for VR and AR by using hardware-based 4K graphics encoding and decoding.

Kaby Lake is the third Intel PC chip made using the 14-nanometer process after Broadwell and Skylake. It broke the tradition of Intel making two PC chips per manufacturing process. Manufacturing problems forced Intel to add Kaby Lake to 14-nm and slow down its advance to the next-generation 10-nm manufacturing process.

Manufacturing issues or not, Intel plans to deliver a new PC chip each year. The successor to Kaby Lake will be the 10-nm chip code-named Cannonlake, slated for release in 2017.

Source: Computerworld


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