SAN FRANCISCO—Intel executives earlier this month officially launched its Core M processor, a 14-nanometer chip based on the "Broadwell" architecture that within weeks will find its way into a variety of two-in-one systems and other form factors.
Five days later, they're turning their attention to the Core M's successor, another 14nm processor codenamed "Skylake."
At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2014 show here Sept. 9, CEO Brian Krzanich and other executives showed off a notebook powered by a Skylake chip and running 4K video. While few details about the processor were released, Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said the company early next year will release an early version that will be offered as a software development platform.
The processor will go into production in the second half of 2015, with systems sporting the technology showing up on shelves before the end of the year, Skaugen said. While Skylake will be the same size as the Core M, Skaugen said developers and OEMs "should expect a significant increase in performance, battery life and power efficiency."
Skylake was one of several announcements Intel officials made in the PC and mobile space on the first day of IDF, where most of the attention was on the efforts the chip maker was making in the areas of wearable devices and the Internet of things (IoT). The chip will be another step in Intel's push into a mobile chip space dominated by ARM's low-power architecture, which can be found in most smartphones and tablets currently on the market.
However, Intel officials are betting that as more power-efficient, cost-effective and high-performing two-in-one and other PC form factors come to market, buyers will gravitate away from tablets and embrace thin and light PCs that can be used as either a traditional notebook or a tablet and is easier to use when creating content.
"People are learning what tablets are good for and what tablets are not good for," Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64 and a fan of the two-in-one form factor, told eWEEK. "I don't know a lot of people who will open up their tablet and write a paper on it."
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said Skylake is "a step along [Intel's] overall strategy to bring PC-level performance in to phones and tablets." By lowering the power level of the chip, the chip maker would be able to extend the reach of Broadwell into the mobile device space, making the smartphone market "a lot more competitive than it is today," Moorhead told eWEEK.
"I've felt that Skylake has always been something that could be a game-changer at Intel," he said.
Another important aspect of Skylake is the impact on the timetable for Intel, Brookwood said. The Core M chip hit the market about six months late due to early problems with yields and coordinating the release schedule with device makers, Krzanich told Brookwood during a question-and-answer period after his keynote.
The analyst told eWEEK later hitting the schedule of having Skylake in production a year from now "would be really encouraging because all along they have said that their tick-tock [schedule] meant that there would be 12 months between releases, but the last few years it's been more like 18 months. Putting Skylake out in a 12-month cadence would be very important to them."