Intel has officially released the first wave of processor chips based on the new Skylake architecture, brining DDR4 memory to the desktop for the first time and promising performance increases of up to 30 percent over the older Ivy Bridge generation of chips.
Available immediately, the first Skylake chips are the Core i7-6700K and the Core i5-6600K, both of which are aimed at enthusiasts and gamers. The main wave of Skylake processors is set to follow before the end of the year, Intel said.
The new chips are the Skylake-K variants of Intel's latest generation of processors. Skylake itself represents Intel's sixth generation of Core chips. They are manufactured using the same 14nm process as the previous Broadwell generation, but introduce a new and improved microarchitecture, representing a 'tock' in Intel's 'tick-tock' development model.
Key features of the first two chips are support for DDR4 memory, and the fact that the chips are unlocked and offer an unprecedented level of control over the clock speed, with fine-grained tuning in increments of 1MHz, according to Intel.
The Core i7-6700K has a base clock speed of 4GHz and a max Turbo speed of 4.2GHz, while the Core i5-6600K has a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and a max Turbo speed of 3.9GHz.
Both are quad-core chips, but the Core i7-6700K supports eight threads, while the Core i5-6600K supports only four.
Simon Lambden, technical marketing engineer for Intel UK, said that Intel is leading the Skylake introduction with the enthusiast chips because "gaming is driving the market" and buyers will see a noticeable improvement in performance.
"If you compare this processor to its brethren of the last few years, you will see quite a linear difference, with up to 30 percent better performance than a three year-old Ivy Bridge setup, 20 percent better performance than two years ago, and a 10 percent improvement over a year-old system," he said.
Intel also introduced a new chipset, the Z170, and a new LGA 1151 motherboard socket. The chipset provides 40 percent more I/O interfaces, a key addition being that storage attached to the PCI Express bus is now supported by Intel's Rapid Storage Technology, enabling hardware such as PCIe solid state drives to be used in a Raid configuration.
The chipset also supports DDR4 memory at up to 2133MHz, or DDR3 at 1600MHz in two memory channels, with two DIMMS per channel. Up to 64GB of memory can be fitted using DDR4, Intel said.
Pricing for the chips is $350 (£224) for the Core i7-6700K and $243 (£156) for the Core i5-6600K.
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