PCs Powered by Intel's 'Kaby Lake' Chips Coming This Year

At IDF, CEO Brian Krzanich shows off the new graphics capabilities in the company's 7th-Generation 14nm Core processors for PCs.

Intel PCs

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel officials may be reducing the chip maker's dependence on the foundering PC market, but that doesn't mean they've given up on the systems.

During his keynote address here Aug. 16 on the opening day of the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), CEO Brian Krzanich showed off systems running on the company's upcoming 7th-Generation Core "Kaby Lake" chips, boasting of the processors' abilities to smoothly run 4K videos and 3D applications, thanks to integrated graphics capabilities.

Krzanich and other Intel officials demonstrated some of these capabilities by running the new shooter game, Overwatch, on a Dell XPS powered by Kaby Lake chips. In addition, Krzanich also showed a two-in-one system from HP Inc. and powered by the new processors, and showed how quickly PCs powered by the chips can run such demanding workloads as editing high-resolution 4K video from a GoPro camera.

In addition, Intel officials announced that the chip maker is working with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to make the company's premium movies in 4K available to run on PCs powered by Kaby Lake.

New systems running the 7th-Generation Core chips—the successor to the current "Skylake" processors—will begin hitting the market in the fall, Krzanich said. Along with Dell and HP, Lenovo, Acer and Asus are among other system makers reportedly preparing to run out new PCs powered by the Kaby Lake processors.

Krzanich and other Intel officials talked about systems powered by the new chips being able to democratize high-end video capabilities, with the CEO noting that Kaby Lake will "make rich experiences available to everyone." He also said that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will make its premium movies available to users of upcoming PCs that are powered by the next-generation Core processors.

The 14-nanometer Kaby Lake was a relatively new addition to the Intel chip roadmap. Krzanich first publicly talked about it in July, after saying that the company's 10nm chip would be delayed until the second half of 2017, and that Intel would add a third 14nm chip. The move marked the stretching out of the vendor's famous tick-tock processor schedule. Kaby Lake was Intel's concession that the manufacturing challenges are becoming more difficult as they continue to shrink the circuitry of the chip.

Intel faced similar challenges when it made the move from 22nm to 14nm, which delayed the launch of the "Broadwell" architecture by several months. Intel next year will make the move to 10nm with "Cannonlake."

The global PC market has been contracting since late 2011—due in large part by the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets, as well as business users and consumers holding onto their systems longer—and shipments have fallen consistently. Some industry analysts have said they expect some sort of bounce back over the next year as more PCs powered by newer Intel chips and running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system come to market. In addition, Microsoft's offer of a free upgrade to systems running Windows 7 and 8.1 has run out, and new form factors—in particular two-in-ones—are falling in price and getting attention from buyers.

In addition, tablet sales are tumbling and smartphone shipments have started to slow as the market matures.

Intel officials are looking to reduce the company's reliance on the PC market—and PCs are taking a much lower profile at this year's IDF—to focus more of its efforts and resources on such emerging growth markets as the cloud, the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), drones and the data center.