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Intel Skylake laptop CPUs should use less power, run faster, and can even drive three 4K monitors

Gordon Mah Ung | Aug. 19, 2015
Skylake-based laptops should offer a nice boost over today's Broadwell laptops, and here's why.

On desktops, Skylake’s performance improvement was decent but didn’t match the hyped leaks. On laptops, there’s a good chance Skylake will surprise us more as the power savings can sometimes be turned into performance improvements.

Security

With security on everyone’s mind, Intel is introducing two new extensions aimed at locking down the PC. The first is Intel’s SGX or Software Guard eXtensions. SGX is aimed at reducing privileged attacks by malware in a system. SGX works hand in hand with Intel’s Memory Protection eXtensions which are also designed to build isolated sections of memory. Whether this would protect against “row-hammering attacks” but it’s possible this could help.

Intel dedicates a lot more real estate or graphics today than it did when it first started integrating graphics.

Graphics

It’s no secret that Intel’s been putting a lot more emphasis on integrated graphics over these last few generations and one slide at IDF drives the point home. If you think of a CPU’s die as valuable real-estate in Manhattan, we’ve gone from it taking up a small sliver in the 2nd gen Sandy Bridge chip to accounting for almost half of the CPU area. It’s here where Skylake gets the most improvements. While Haswell could drive a 4K monitor at only 30Hz, and Broadwell could drive a single 4K monitor at 60Hz, Skylake is capable of driving three panels at 4K resolution and 60Hz.

Intel has also integrated fixed-function support of 4K video processing in hardware. That means Intel has dedicated transistors directly to the job of decoding and encoding 4K. In one demonstration showing playback of a 4K RAW video stream from a Canon video camera, playback was smooth using the Skylake graphics chip, while using just the CPU, it would constantly drop frames.

Graphics performance is where Intel is really making strides.

That same 2nd-gen Sandy Bridge chip had a peak shader GFLOPS performance of 130 GFLOPS, Intel said. Intel’s Skylake graphics can exceed, 1,100 GFLOPS. Skylake graphics improvement, in fact, impressed me on the desktop chip and I’m looking forward to seeing it in a laptop.

All told, Skylake looks like it will be solid improvement over Broadwell when it comes in laptops and mini NUC-style machines, but the question is when. With various engineers throwing out “two weeks” as a launch date, that puts it right around the start of the IFA trade show in Berlin.

 

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