15 New Skylake Features That Will Make PCs Better Than Ever

'New Era Of Computing'

Partners have been talking for months about Intel's newest chipset based on the 14nm sixth-generation Skylake microarchitecture. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company on Tuesday launched new Skylake Core processors across the board, for both mobile PCs to desktops.

Partners and analysts hope the security, varying form factor and new wireless experiences Skylake supports will drive upgrades from the more than 1 billion installed base of PCs over three years old.

New PCs running on Skylake will contain 2.5 times faster performance, 3 times longer battery life and 4 times faster wake-up times over desktops that are five years or older, according to Intel.

Following are 15 new features of Skylake that serve as incentives for customers with older PCs to upgrade.

1. Skylake Is The 'Most Scalable Ever'

Intel hailed its Skylake processors as the most scalable across device segments.

Skylake's Y-Series, targeted for 2-in-1 detachable devices, tablets and small form factors like the Compute Stick, is at the mobile end of the spectrum with 4.5 watts of thermal design power (TDP), meaning it has lower power consumption.

This goes across the board with Intel's U-Series at 15 W and its H-Series processor family at 45 W. On the other side of the spectrum is the S-Series, targeted for desktop performance to value, all-in-ones and Mini PCs, with the highest performance at up to 91 W of TDP.

2. Package Size

Scalability refers both to thermal design power, but also surface-mount packaging sizes for integrated circuits. Package size on integrated circuits controls how the processor works with its motherboard.

At the low TDP level of 4.5 W, Skylake's Y-Series has a 20-x-6.5mm BGA 1515 (ball grid array) packaging, while at the highest level its S-Series contains 37.5-x-37.5mm LGA 1151 (land grid array) packaging.

Meanwhile, Skylake's U-Series, targeted at thin, light notebooks and portable all-in-ones, contain 42-x-24mm BGA 1356 packaging, while its H-Series, for mobile workstations, contain 42-x-28mm BGA 1440 packaging.

3. Camera ISP Integration

Intel announced the camera image signal processor (ISP) would be integrated into Skylake's architecture, creating a viable camera-imaging solution.

This ISP integration will reduce the complexity of designing devices and allow for camera-image-processing tasks, such as face detection, burst capture, panorama capture and still capture during video recordings. The ISPs also will support up to four 13 MP cameras, including two that can be active at the same time.

4. Speed Shift Technology

Along with Skylake, Intel introduced power-saving technology called Speed Shift, which allows the CPU to change its power state according to the amount of power the tasks at hand require.

This technology boosts power-management responsiveness by giving the processor more power in controlling frequency levels as opposed to the operating system.

With Skylake, processors also save device batteries by running at the most efficient frequency without the oversight of the operating system.

5. Revamped eDRAM Cache And DDR4 Support

In terms of memory refinements, Intel has revamped the embedded dynamic random access memory (eDRAM) cache in the Skylake platform from the Broadwell platform.

eDRAM cache in Skylake is connected to the processor between the integrated memory controller and the processor portion, leveraging cache coherence. This supports power-efficient and low-latency display refreshes, and in Skylake eDRAM can now cache any data, while in Broadwell, eDRAM took in data left over from Level-3 cache.

In addition, Skylake processors contain DDR4 support, meaning that memory bandwidth in systems can increase.

6. DirectX 12 Support

Skylake's high-end S-Series processors include support for DirectX 12, which is an important feature for the enthusiast segment. DirectX 12 is Microsoft's new application programmers interface (API) for gaming on Windows 10 systems.

This feature is crucial for boutique system builders looking to get ahead with customers who want to refresh their gaming towers.

7. Bigger And Wider Core

Skylake's microarchitecture contains a wider core, giving processors the ability to dispatch more instructions at one time. For instance, Skylake processors can dispatch up to six instructions at once.

Skylake's bigger and wider core allows for better instructions per clock and improved power efficiency. Other improvements allow Skylake cores to reduce fetching instructions when the processor detects excessive speculative execution, saving the power budget.

8. Security Enhancements

Skylake microarchitecture includes security enhancements, at both the software and memory levels.

Skylake includes Intel Software Guard Extensions, which are designed to increase the security of software through sealing software into an enclave and protecting it from malware on the platform.

The architecture also includes Intel Memory Protection Extensions, which allow for practical memory-access protection during deployment, improving the processor's performance.

9. Overclocking

Two of Intel's Skylake processors in its S-Series contain finer-grain increments and new overclocking capabilities, enabling the ability to increase memory frequency.

Through Skylake, the chip has been designed to allow for overclocking by supporting up to 83 steps in 100MHz increments, with a theoretical maximum of 8.3GHz. These capabilities are in high demand among enthusiasts and overclockers who are looking to purchase boutique systems.

10. Small Form Factors

Intel's Skylake platform delivers advances on small form factors, including increased tablet-like input/output (I/O) integration and an integrated 2-D camera.

For Mini PCs, Intel showed off its 15 W U-Series as part of the Skylake Core processor family.

Meanwhile, Intel's Compute Stick, a dongle that can be plugged into a monitor, turning it into a full-fledged PC, will be supported by Skylake's 4.5 W Y-Series. The Y-Series contains Core m3 and Core m5 with vPro processors.

11. Improvements For 2-In-1s

Intel has seen momentum with the 2-in-1 market, which has grown over four times since 2013, and has lowered average prices from $900 in 2013 to $650 today, according to data from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

The market presents an important partner opportunity as well. According to Intel, customers also are refreshing their 2-in-1s eight to 12 months faster in 2015 than two years ago.

Intel's Y-Series contains low-power, 4.5 W Core i5 and Core i7 processors for 2-in-1 detachables and tablets.

12. High Mobile Performance

Skylake delivers energy efficiency and high performance through Core IPC (instructions per clock) improvements and increased IO (input/output) integration for tablets.

For mobile performance, Intel's H-Series, with 45 W processors, are the best for the ultimate mobile performance. These processors are intended for mobile workstations and are packaged to be compatible with 1440 motherboard sockets.

13. Notebooks And Portable All-In-Ones

Skylake's U-Series processors are lower-powered mobile chips that target thin and light notebooks, portable all-in-ones and mini PCs. These processors range in thermal display power, from 15 W at the low end to 28 W at the high end, and feature 1356 BGA packaging.

These sixth-generation Skylake mobile processors also feature two times the productivity at one-fourth the thermal power, in comparison to a five-year-old PC.

14. Amping Up The Graphics Architecture

In addition to processor improvements, Intel's sixth-generation Skylake platform also contains significant graphics architecture enhancements.

Skylake's graphics architecture allows device users to watch up to 10 hours of full HD video playback, as well as consume 4 K Raw content 20 percent faster. The graphics architecture also improves 3-D graphics performance by up to 40 percent.

In addition, Intel Iris graphics 500 series is available at 15 W and contains even better performance with integrated eDRAM.

15. Other Platform Capabilities

Skylake supports other important technologies that can change how users interact with their devices. Intel RealSense, for example, is a spatial-recognition feature that can enable facial recognition for device users.

Intel's WiGig, Wireless Gigabit docking technology, is another extension of the Skylake platform that allows seamless and wireless docking to users' networks.