Intel 2015-2016 Roadmap Reveals Skylake-S Unlocked Processors In Q3 2015 – 65W Broadwell K-Series in Q2, Broadwell-E Arrives In Q1 2016

Hassan Mujtaba

It seems like the yearly processor refresh is approaching us soon in Q2 2015 with several updates planned by Intel for the upcoming quarters. A roadmap shown by VR-Zone has shown off what Intel plans to do with the Broadwell, Skylake and Braswell generation of processors which are utilizing the 14nm process technology and enhancements to performance and efficiency for desktop platforms.

Image Credits: VR-Zone!

Unlocked Broadwell Hits Market in Q2 Followed by Unlocked Skylake-S In Q3 2015

First of all are the two major parts shipping for desktop socketed platforms in Q2 and Q3. Intel, which has currently launched Broadwell-U for notebooks will be bringing Broadwell-K (Unlocked Series) to the market around Q2 2015. A reveal around Computex 2015 in June seems highly possible since Intel usually reveal refresh and new processors at the event that also acts as a platform to demonstrate their chips as seen the previous year.

The surprising thing is that Intel will be bringing only quad core chips to the socketed platform which will adopt the Broadwell core architecture that is based on a 14nm process technology. The Quad Core parts which have a unlocked design, feature compatibility with Z97/H97 chipset based motherboards with the LGA1150 socket and will have a TDP of just 65W. This sounds a bit strange that the top unlocked series will ship with an unusually low TDP when previous parts carried a TDP of 95W. The new Broadwell-K series are supposed to feature four Broadwell x86 cores and faster Iris Pro graphics chips with eDRAM cache on board (128MB L4 Crystalwell) that is Intel's flagship graphics processing unit designed to date integrating 48 execution units. The specific models are not known but Intel will be using the Core-5000 series branding for the new chips when they are available in the market.

The story gets more interesting with the next update which is in regards to Skylake. For some time now, we have assumed that Skylake-S and Skylake-K will be two different series however the roadmap has summed it entirely different. As seen, Skylake-S series is featuring three different tiers of chips. The 65W and 35W will be the standard mainstream design for the platform which will feature a locked multiplier and will be compatible with the LGA1151 socket featured on the Z170 series motherboards. The third tier are the 95W unlocked chips with the "K" moniker that means that Skylake-S will be an unlocked design from the start and no need for the K-Series would be required for later on. We can expect a refresh in the future but it's a breath of fresh air for those demanding platform upgrades sooner. The desktop processors will be launching in Q3 of 2015 and will have multiple quad core and dual core models.

Intel 6th Generation Skylake – Core i7-6000 and Core i5-6000 Series Processors

Now Skylake is also based on a 14nm architecture but its a microarchitecture built from the ground up. The Skylake-S processors which are the mainstream line will be branded as the 6th Generation Core i5-6000 and Core i7-6000 parts. Skylake will feature compatibility with the LGA 1151 socketed motherboards based on the 100-Series (Z170/H170) series Sunrise Point chipset.

The transition to Z170 chipset will not be a massive upgrade and would be similar to what the Z97 was to Z87 with a little added features such as more PCI-e lanes, Super Speed USB and up to 10 USB ports compared to 6 standard ones found on the current iteration of motherboards. There will be a total of six 100-series chipset SKUs which will include the Z170 (Performance)replacing the Z97, H170 (Mainstream) replacing the H97, H110 (Value) replacing the H81, B150 (Small and medium Business) replacing the B85 and the Q170 plus Q150 chips with Intel vPro / SIPP which will replace the Q87 and Q85. So as you can note,Intel has the entire replacement plan ready which will update the current desktop chipset stack in 2015. Intel is already phasing out their Ivy Bridge-E and Z77/H77/H75/Q75 chipsets in early 2015. This transition won’t eliminate support for Z97 or Z87 in 2015 since there would be a majority of consumers who will still be running Broadwell and Haswell processors since these platforms have spanned a longer shelve-time in the market and will cease to exist along side each other for a couple of years.

The Z170 would be the flagship performance chipset which will support the unlocked K-Series Skylake processors. The chipset will feature up to 20 PCIe Gen 3 lanes, 6 SATA Gen 3 ports, 10 USB 3.0 ports and a total of 14 total USB ports (USB 3.0 / USB 2.0), up to 3 SATA Express capable ports, up to 3 Intel RST capable PCI-e storage ports which may include x2 SATA Express or M.2 SSD port with Enhanced SPI and x4/x8/x16 capable Gen 3 PCI-Express support from the processor.

Intel Broadwell-E Extreme Edition Chips Arrive in Q1 2016

The launch of several mainstream chips will eventually trigger a delay for the main high-performance and enthusiast platform. Intel will move Broadwell-E to Q1 of 2016 while Haswell-E will stick to the 2015 time. Intel's Broadwell-E platform will feature 8 core and 6 core chips based on 14nm Broadwell core architecture and feature TDPs of 140W across the X and K series SKUs. The platform will stick to compatibility with the current generation LGA2011-3 socket and X99 PCH motherboards.

Intel Mainstream Platforms Comparison Chart:

Intel Sandy Bridge Platform Intel Ivy Bridge Platform Intel Haswell Platform Intel Broadwell Platform Intel Skylake Platform Intel Cannonlake Platform
Processor Architecture Sandy Bridge Ivy Bridge Haswell Broadwell Skylake Cannonlake
Processor Process 32nm 22nm 22nm 14nm 14nm 10nm
Processors Cores (Max) 4 4 4 4 4 TBA
Platform Chipset 6-Series “Cougar Point” 7-Series “Panther Point” 8-Series “Lynx Point” 9-Series “Wild Cat Point” 100-Series “Sunrise Point” 200-Series “Union Point”
Platform Socket LGA 1155 LGA 1155 LGA 1150 LGA 1150 LGA 1151 TBA
Memory Support DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR4 DDR4
Thunderbolt Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes “Alpine Ridge” Yes
Platform Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA Desktop LGA
Launch 2011 2012 2013-2014 2015 2015 2016

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