Intel to Crank Out Xeon Skylake Chips for Notebook PCs

Company officials say the 14nm processors will be aimed at engineers, architects and designers who want more performance in their mobile workstations.

Xeon Skylake Chips

Intel is going to offer server-class processing in mobile computers.

Officials with the chip maker said that mobile workstations featuring Xeon processors based on the new 14-nanometer "Skylake" architecture will begin hitting the market in the fall, aiming to give designers, content editors and engineers the compute power they need in a mobile form factor.

Intel has created the Xeon E3-1500M v5 product family for mobile workstations that will offer not only significant improvements in performance, power efficiency and battery life over current workstation chips, but also support for such features like error-correcting code memory for improved reliability for running workstation applications.

The chips also will include certified drives for particular engineering applications and support for Intel's vPro technology, which is designed to enable greater manageability and productivity as well as offer hardware-assisted security, company officials said.

Intel officials gave few details about the chips, adding only that they are being built specifically with workers like architects and engineers in mind.

"If you fall in this camp, you understand that not just any PC will do," Intel officials wrote in a post on the company blog. "You need the right mix of processor performance, memory, graphics and storage that lets you create, test, and deliver solutions. With the increasing popularity of digital creation (4K videos, digital design etc.), more creative professionals and engineers are seeing a need for workstation class capabilities in a portable device. … This family of processors are based on the next gen Skylake architecture and they will deliver high precision computing horsepower in notebook form factors."

The officials noted the latest numbers from IDC analysts that show that the most recent quarter was the sixth in a row of year-over-year unit growth for mobile workstations.

The mobile workstations that will begin selling in the fall will not only feature the new Skylake Xeon processors, but also Intel's Thunderbolt 3, the latest iteration of the company's interconnect technology.

Intel executives introduced the Skylake architecture at the 2014 Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September 2014, and they are expected to talk more about it when this year's show kicks off Aug. 18 in San Francisco.

At 14nm, Skylake represents Intel's latest process shrink, bringing it down from the 22nm "Broadwell" chips, although Intel last year did roll out a 14nm Broadwell chip for thin-and-light notebooks and other devices. However, Intel and other chip makers are seeing growing challenges as they continue to shrink the circuitry on the processors and chase Moore's Law, which has forced Intel to amend its famous tick-tock processor schedule and come out with a new architecture now every 2.5 years rather than every two.

Intel on Aug. 5 launched the first Skylake Core processors, with the Core i7-6700K and i5-6600K desktop chips aimed at the PC gamer and enthusiast markets. The chips come with up to four cores, a base frequency of 4.0GHz and a 10 percent performance boost over current high-end PC chips, according to Intel officials. In addition, they're more energy-efficient than the Broadwell processors and natively support DDR4 memory. An array of system and motherboard makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Asus, Acer, SuperMicro, Gigabyte, Asrock, EVGA and Dell's gaming PC business, Alienware, are building PCs that run on the new chips, according to Intel.

Intel is expected to release Skylake chips for mainstream systems soon, with PCs powered by them coming to market before the end of the year.