Intel Withheld Haswell Shipments in order to Push Skylake Sales

While PC sales have been slower over the past few years, it looks like Intel had been planning for such an occurrence. According to market data, Intel withheld processor shipments for the first half of the year in order to prepare the channel for the Skylake chips that launched in the 2nd half. By draining the inventory of Haswell/Haswell-Refresh CPUs, Intel is hoping to push buyers onto Skylake quicker.

Usually, Intel oversupplies the market in the first half of the year. This allows builders ranging from small shops and larger OEMs to build up systems and stock, allowing for faster sales once the back to school and holiday season come along. However, this got switched up this year as Intel timed their Skylake launch to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 10. By draining older stock earlier, Intel hoped that Skylake would have an easier time in the market and ride the Windows/holiday wave.

By reducing the number of Haswell systems still available, Intel is hoping consumers will turn to Skylake instead. Usually, Intel would over-ship the market demand by about 8 million units, but this year, they under-shipped by about 3 million, an 11 million difference overall. As builders are low on Haswell stock, they will have no choice but to turn to Skylake for the holiday demand. By moving users more quickly onto Skylake revenue for the chipmaker increases and customers are able to benefit from the newer architecture faster. Those looking for cheaper Haswell processors are going to be out of luck though.

Thank you TechTraderDaily for providing us with this information

Intel Regrets Skipping Broadwell for Desktop PCs

Intel has admitted that skipping desktop PC iterations of its Broadwell processors last year was a mistake following a massive dip in sales for the company over the last twelve months. Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel, confessed during this year’s Citi 2015 Global Technology Conference in New York that not releasing Broadwell for PC – instead, opting for the Haswell Refresh – was “a mistake”.

“I mentioned desktop’s more than a $10 billion business for Intel,” Skaugen told attendees of Citi GTC 2015. “We didn’t build a next generation core product our last product for Towers. We made an experiment and we said maybe we are putting technology in to the market too fast, but let’s not build a chip for the mainstream Tower business, more than a $10 billion business. Turns out that was a mistake. It saved us some R&D, but XP end of life and then there was no reason to buy a PC this year.”

One upside of the decision, though, is that demand for new Intel desktop processors has never been higher, with Skaugen conceding that Intel is now “expecting a slightly better than seasonal or high-end to seasonal for the second half [0f 2015] now”.

Thank you Seeking Alpha for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WCCF Tech.

Intel Skylake Series Prices Revealed

With the Intel Skylake-S series of processors is set to officially unveiled on 5th August, prices for each model have been leaked, and a cursory glance at the list below suggests a performance boost over the Intel Haswell Refresh for less money. An average of about 7% less:

Could we really be getting an upgrade on the Haswell Refresh at a reduced price? Well, it seems unlikely. It is to be assumed that the listed prices are merely wholesale figures, and that the retail cost will add at least another 25% to the price. Even taking into account an inevitable retail price increase, the Haswell Refresh equivalent of the top-listed Skylake-S, the Intel Core i7-6700K, is the Intel Core i7-4790K, which retails for around $350. A 25% hike on the i7-6700K puts it at approximately $400, which still seems reasonable for the impressive CPU.

The Skylake-S range of processors, described by Intel as its “most important chip architecture”, is set to be officially unveiled at Gamescom on 5th August, with the retail release expected to follow shortly after, expected to be before the end of August. The box art for the i7 6700K and i5 6600K has already been leaked after going on-sale early in Australia.

Image courtesy of VRWorld

Intel Confirms Death of Tick Tock – Kaby Lake to Replace Cannon Lake

In an ominous sign for the future, Intel has officially confirmed the delay of their 10nm process, used for Cannon Lake, till the second half of 2017. In its stead, the 14nm Kaby Lake will take its place for 2016. This confirms the earlier reports that Intel was facing difficulties in 10nm and was adding Kaby Lake to give them more time to work on Cannon Lake. This does seem to place doubts onto earlier information about “Ice Lake“.

CEO Brian Krzanich noted that the firm had already encountered difficulties with their transition to 14nm, which led to the stop gap Haswell Refresh. Kaby Lake will take a similar role as Haswell Refresh but for the Skylake microarchitecture, but will receive some “key performance enhancements” over Skylake. Kzranich also noted that the time frame for Tick Tock was likely to shift to 2.5 years instead of the previous 2 years as die shrinks get harder and harder to implement.

Intel has long kept ahead of the curve with the Tick Tock strategy, but it seems that they can no longer rely just on process technology to keep them ahead of competitors. This is the first official confirm we have for Kaby Lake, but given that the previously leaked slides have shown no real changes for the desktop SKUs compared to Skylake, these “key performance enhancements” may be limited to mobile.

Skylake is looking to be a good buy for those in the market today as it now seems guaranteed that it’s true successor won’t come till 2017. However, Cannon Lake will still be based on Skylake so really, the next major update won’t be till 2018. This should allow AMD to make a splash with their new Zen architecture in 2016 as long as it lives up to its hype. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out over the next few years.

Media Outlet Slams Intel’s Devil’s Canyon, Did It Disappoint?

Intel’s Devil’s Canyon CPU is a product that we have already reviewed. In the run up to its release there was so much talk about bringing back the “good old days” of 5GHz overclocking on air, and all that shabang. However, as our review revealed that simply wasn’t the case. Now media outlet Digital Trends has come out and publicly attacked Intel’s newest offering stating it has let enthusiasts down once again. Digital Trends claim it is part of a longer term anti-overclocking mentality at Intel. They claim that Intel’s Lisa Graff hyped up the product and misled consumers because it doesn’t actually bring anything new. Indeed as most reviews of Devil’s Canyon now show we’ve got a CPU that overclocks more or less the same as the Core i7 4770K, runs marginally cooler but requires more volts: hardly progress, and I must say I agree.

However, the sad conclusion (as Digital Trends so rightfully note) is that there is no incentive for Intel to do better. AMD simply cannot compete and Intel has no reason to compete with itself. If enthusiasts want more then Intel wants you to spend more and choose X79 or X99 (when that arrives in September).

You can read the interesting opinion piece at the source link below.

Source: Digital Trends

Image courtesy of Intel

Intel Core i7 4790K “Devil’s Canyon” Processor Review

Introduction & What’s New?


Intel released its Devil’s Canyon CPUs at the start of this month in time for this year’s Computex event. Sadly we were delayed in getting our sample of the Core i7 4790K, which means our review has come out a little late, but nevertheless we have Intel’s new flagship on the test bench today for a good thorough review. For those of you who don’t know about Devil’s Canyon, it is Intel’s internal codename for its new Haswell Refresh K series CPUs. Devil’s Canyon includes the Core i7 4790K and Core i5 4690K, both quad core parts based on Haswell Microarchitecture but with speed bumps and a few modifications. There isn’t that much to say specifically about the Core i7 4790K that wasn’t already noted in our Core i7 4770K review, because the microarchitecture is still Haswell. However, there are a few new features that Intel is bringing to the table with Devil’s Canyon that have specifically been done to appease Intel enthusiasts and overclockers. The Core i7 4790K is unique in the regard that Intel have listened to the feedback and concerns of its user base and tried to make specific modifications to eliminate or reduce those concerns.

The first major change comes with regards to the physical characteristics of the CPU. Intel has swapped out the thermal paste under the IHS for a better quality thermal paste which should allow for lower temperatures and better overclocking as a result. Intel have also added additional capacitors to the back of the CPU which they claim smooths power delivery to the CPU die, which again should enhance overclocking potential. Another change that Intel aren’t really marketing is the addition of support for Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) and Transactional Synchronization Extensions New Instructions (TSX-NI)

Intel hasn’t just tweaked the physical design of the CPU either – they’ve also pushed the CPU’s performance even further. For the first time Intel is shipping a consumer processor with a 4GHz clock speed, that’s a barrier AMD broke many years ago but Intel has always been fairly cautious with its clock speeds. The CPU goes even further than 4GHz with a 4.4GHz Turbo frequency, from my experiences on a number of Z97 motherboards this basically means your CPU will always be at 4.4GHz so that’s a significant jump up from anything Intel have ever offered before. Frequency bumps aside the core count, thread count, cache size, graphics and socket all remain the same. Devil’s Canyon CPUs will price match their predecessors on paper but at retailers you can expect to see the older Core i7 4770K and Core i5 4690K slightly cheaper to the tune of $10-50. I also just want to clear up a note about backwards compatibility. Intel’s Core i7 4790K, Core i5 4690K and other Haswell Refresh CPUs will theoretically work in all 8 and 9 series LGA 1150 motherboards. Some motherboard vendors will need to issue BIOS updates to enable this support but all motherboards should get this support because the sockets still have identical pin-outs and the CPU pin-out has not changed either.

Cube Raptor Gaming PC Review

Introduction


It is no secret that there are a lot of people who are interested in gaming PCs but do not have the time or the experience to build their own. It is also no secret that PCs made by gimmicky system builders like Alienware are over-priced and are not good value for money, you are mainly paying for the brand name and reputation and get very little hardware for your money. So what other options do you have? Buying from a system integrator is rapidly becoming a popular alternative, with the constant year-on-year growth in the PC gaming industry it is no wonder that there are more system integrators to choose from than ever before.

Today we are taking a look at a gaming system made by the system integrator called Cube. We are checking out their Cube Raptor Gaming PC which offers up a sweet-spot balance of components at a fairly attractive sub-£700 price point. The Raptor boasts the latest Core i5 Haswell Refresh CPU from Intel with the flagship Z97 chipset as well as a 2GB AMD R7 265 overclocked graphics card and 8GB of DDR3. Interestingly, there’s no either/or rubbish going on with the storage – Cube have equipped a hybrid drive so it can bring the benefits of an SSD and large capacity HDD to an attractive price point. All in all this system has an interesting mix of components and is finished off nicely with In Win’s GT1 gaming mid tower case. Check out the full specifications of this system below:

Specifications

  • Name: Cube Raptor Gaming PC
  • Case: In Win GT1 Mid Tower
  • Motherboard: MSI Z97-G43 LGA 1150 socket
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4590 “Haswell Refresh” Quad Core (3.3GHz Base 3.7GHz Turbo) LGA 1150 socket
  • Processor Cooler: Stock Intel Heatsink
  • System Memory: 1 x 8GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX Fury 1866MHz (Blue)
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 1TB Hybrid Solid State Hard Drive with 8GB SSD Cache
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Not included
  • Graphics card: MSI R7 265 OC 2GB GDDR5
  • Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite 500W
  • Optical DriveSuper WriteMaster DVD RW
  • Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN781ND PCIe 150mbps 2.4GHz WiFi card
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 2 Year Warranty (14 Day Swap Out,1st Year collect and return, 2nd Year Return to Base)
  • Price: £669.99 including VAT (accurate at the time of writing)

Packaging & Accessories

We received the Cube Raptor Gaming PC in the usual format: a large cardboard outer box within which we find the system in the box that the In Win case came in. There’s some additional protective polystyrene to protect the inner box from bumps and on top of it all is the motherboard box which contains all the manuals, documentation, cables and adapters that came with components in the system that you might need.

As we can see the inner box is in perfect condition and has sustained no damage in transit, this means it was packaged well.

Inside the motherboard box we find lots of documentation for the system components, a power cable for the system, various CDs, a VGA to DVI adapter and the wireless antenna for the WiFi PCI express card.

Before we get stuck in to looking at the product let’s just take a minute to familiarise ourselves with the stars of the show; the Intel Core i5 4590 and the AMD R7 265 OC.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Intel Haswell Refresh Core i3 And Pentium Processors Set To Arrive July 20th

According to rumours coming out of China Intel’s Haswell Refresh Pentium and Core i3 processors will arrive on July 20th 2014. We have already seen the Haswell Refresh Core i5 and Core i7 models, such as the new Devil’s Canyon Core i7 4790K, but we’ve yet to see the lower-end SKUs. The lower-end SKUs are comprised of four Core i3 processors, two of which are T series energy efficient processors while the other two are not. There will also be four Pentium processors of which two are T models and two are not.

  • Core i3 4370, Core i3 4360T, Core i3 4160, Core i3 4160T
  • Pentium G3460, Pentium G3450T, Pentium G3250, Pentium G3250T

All processors will make use of the 22nm Haswell microarchitecture and will be based on the refreshed silicon production. I expect all the Core i3 models to be dual core, four thread parts while all the Pentium parts will be dual core parts without hyperthreading. Stay tuned for more details as they arrive.

Source: VR-Zone (Chinese)

Image courtesy of VR-Zone (Chinese)

Rumour: Intel Devil’s Canyon Will Be Z87 Compatible

Devil’s Canyon is the apparent codename for Intel’s newest unlocked K series CPUs that will probably be released on or around Computex 2014 in June according to widely circulated rumours. Devil’s Canyon is expected to include a Core i7 4790K and a Core i5 4690K both of which are supposedly based on Haswell architecture and part of “Haswell Refresh” series from which we’ve already seen a few locked CPUs released. We’ve heard from a lot of sources that there will not be backwards compatibility of Devil’s Canyon CPUs with 8 series motherboards (Z87, Z85, H87, H81, B85, Q87, Q85 etc) because of some hardware level changes in the CPU design such as the way power is delivered.However, one source reports that this is simply not the case and Devil’s Canyon will be compatible with 8 series motherboards.

The lack of compatibility is apparently just a formal thing because the specification of the TDPs do not match up between the revised LGA 1150 socket spec on 9 series and the LGA 1150 8 series socket spec. Therefore Intel is obliged to state incompatibility between 8 series and Devil’s Canyon. However, the difference is a mere 4 watts and apparently motherboard vendors are already validating Devil’s Canyon CPUs in existing 8 series motherboards to great success. Devil’s Canyon is still a fourth generation processor design so Broadwell might still be incompatible with 8 series motherboards even if Devil’s Canyon is compatible. However, this latest development does also call that rumour into question as well.

Source: Hardware.fr

Image courtesy of Hardware.fr

ASRock Reveals Their “Worlds Fastest” Ultra M.2 Socket

Z97 motherboards and Haswell Refresh CPU’s may not have been a huge wave of innovation for the PC component market, but they did bring with the a couple of interesting features that can have a big impact on the world of storage. The first one being the ASRock Ultra M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 connection which was just announced, which effectively doubles its transfer speed bandwidth, leaving SATA 3 6GB/s looking like a dial-up connection in comparison.

The Ultra M.2 gets its big speed boost thanks to its direct connection to the CPU, older M.2 interfaces have to pass through their own chipset before heading to the CPU, which added latency and slowed things down. Now that latency is much lower and there is more performance on tap from the CPU.

“The theoretical speed of Ultra M.2 is 32Gb/s, which is 6X faster than PCIe x1 M.2, and 3X faster than PCIe x2 M.2. As for Ultra M.2 vs. normal M.2 comparison, we tested the read speed of Samsung XP941 PCIe x4 M.2 SSD on Ultra M.2 socket and reached 1.16GB/s, 46% faster than PCIe x2 M.2 socket. We also tested a PCIe x2 M.2 SSD on Ultra M.2 socket. Benefited from the direct linkage between Ultra M.2 interface and CPU, the PCIe x2 M.2 SSD read speed on Ultra M.2 socket is 8.8% faster than on normal M.2 socket. As shown in Chart 3, the lower latency of Ultra M.2 design does matter,” ASRock said in a release.

This new interface is currently only available on the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 motherboard, which also comes equipped with Super Alloy technology, a 12 phase power design, Purity Sound 2, Dual LAN, SATA Express and ASRock Cloud. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on price at this time, but you can expect it to be a fairly big number.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

ASUS Z97-A (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


After a lot of messy NDA politics between Intel and the main motherboard vendors the launch day of Intel’s Z97 Express chipset is finally upon us. In respect of our relationship with Intel we have been holding off with publishing our reviews until now and today we have a couple of reviews for you. The first is the entry level ASUS Z97 motherboard, the dash A model. This motherboard will be hitting the market at a fairly affordable £115 or $150 price point making it an attractive price point for entering onto Intel’s new enthusiast Z97 platform. Despite the ASUS Z97-A being fairly affordable it still gets most of the features we will see on higher end motherboards such as M.2, SATA Express, Intel Gigabit LAN and all the new ASUS Z97 (Channel) software features we looked at a while back including the new AI Suite III package with the ASUS Turbo App. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the specifications of the ASUS Z97-A:

Packaging and Accessories

A new motherboard chipset brings a new channel style to the ASUS packaging. We can see yet another major colour scheme and style change a shift from the gold/yellow of the last generation to a more subtle silver/gold. We have also risen up from the 4 Way optimisation on the Z87 series to 5 way optimisation provided by the new Turbo App built into AI Suite III.

The back details some of the new ASUS Z97 Channel features which we covered in a lot more detail here, you can also find them explained further on the ASUS Z97-A product page.

Included is a user guide, feature booklet and driver/utility DVD with Intel case badge.

Accessories include three SATA III cables, of which one is right angled, a plain metal rear I/O, ASUS Q connectors for your front panel connectors and a SLI bridge.

ASUS Z97 Motherboard Launch Coverage

Introduction


The official Intel Z97 chipset launch day is finally here but it’s hardly been a surprising arrival. There have been leaks left, right and centre so most of today’s revelations probably won’t come as a surprise to most of our readers. However, this article (as the title suggests) is about the ASUS Z97 launch. ASUS went to great lengths in April to communicate with the global media about what is actually new with their Z97 motherboards. Making people aware of the “new” is important because as some of you may know, the new Haswell Refresh CPUs are not yet ready, we don’t have DDR4 support and the Z97 chipset doesn’t really bring anything new. In fact the Z97 chipset still has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, six SATA III and six USB 3.0 ports just like Z87. Don’t let that fool you though, Z97 does bring some new features to the table even if many of these features will be vendor specific. A couple of the more important features that Z97 is pushing are storage related – SATA Express support and PCIe M.2 support. Most vendors will vigorously taking advantage of these and ASUS are certainly no exception.

Today we will be taking an in-depth look at all the Z97 motherboards ASUS are launching today across their three main areas: the Channel Series, the TUF Series and the ROG Series. In this article we will be going through the new features specific to each series before taking a look at each of the motherboards individually. ASUS have certainly pulled out all the stops with Z97 and we can tell that a lot has been learnt from the Z87 generation. Without any further ado let’s proceed to take a look through the ASUS Z97 lineup! Please do skip past any motherboard ranges that are not of interest to you, by the end of it we hope to have given you a good idea of why you might want to upgrade to a (ASUS) Z97 based motherboard.

MSI Reveal Next-Generation Intel Gaming Series Motherboards

With Intel’s new enthusiast Z97 motherboard platform not that far away, motherboard vendors are gearing up to show off their new product ranges. MSI have revealed to us their “next generation” motherboards ,which we believe are Z97, though MSI did not confirm or comment on this because of NDA reasons. However, we will go with the assumption that these are Z97 as I do not see what else they can be! Z97 will bring support for Haswell, Haswell Refresh and Broadwell CPUs as well as exciting new standards like SATA Express and M.2 storage ports. With MSI’s new Gaming Series of motherboards they are opting for a much simpler form of product segmentation – Gaming 3, Gaming 5 and Gaming 7 with a bigger number being a larger and more feature packed motherboard.

Before we dive into the features of MSI’s new motherboard series let’s first take a look at some of these motherboards. Now, as you might expect, these motherboards do not appear to be totally finished yet. Hardly surprising given that Intel’s Z97 motherboard chipset isn’t expected until May according to the latest rumours. Below you can see the Gaming 3 motherboard, the Gaming 5 below that and the Gaming 7 at the bottom. MSI haven’t given us any specifics but you can clearly see as we progress up the Gaming series the CPU VRMs become more substantial, the PCIe connectivity is expanded and so is storage connectivity.

MSI have offered us an insight into the features of their new motherboards. Firstly, they will offer M.2 storage ports which support up to 10 Gb/s speeds, that’s 67% more throughput than SATA III. This is due to the fact they are able to utilise PCIe lanes rather than traditional SATA based connections.

Another storage innovation is the hotly anticipated SATA Express. Again this is able to use PCIe connectivity to improve speeds over traditional SATA pathways. This, like the M.2 standard, offers 10Gb/s throughput and we should expect to see M.2 and SATA Express devices proliferate alongside the Intel Z97 launch later this year.

Some other features include a redesigned I/O panel which is now all black compared to the Z87 I/Os which were not.

Like MSI’s current Z87 motherboard USB Audio Power will be present on their Z97 Gaming series motherboards. This enables stable 5 volt delivery compared to traditional USB power solutions which can fluctuate much more.

Finally the last feature MSI were willing to share with us is the inclusion of XSplit Gamecaster software with all Gaming Series motherboards. There is a complimentary 6 month license to the XSplit Gamecaster premium service.

Expect MSI to have a load more motherboards and features ready for Intel’s next generation chipset launch but until then that’s all MSI have to share!

Images courtesy of MSI

Intel’s Broadwell Delayed Until Q4 2014/ Q1 2015 – Y, U and H Series Affected

Intel’s 14nm Broadwell generation of CPUs had previously been on track to launch in Q3 of 2014 but it appears that this may now not happen as VR-Zone reports Intel are experiencing delays. The delays are selective and some parts remain unaffected. Let’s start with the good news which is that the M series and all the desktop parts of the Haswell Refresh will arrive as scheduled. The Z97 chipset is expected to launch in May 2014 while Haswell-refresh CPUs in the desktop and M series will go on sale from mid-April. These CPUs are not affected by the Broadwell delay at all despite earlier speculation. Please note that the Haswell refresh is not the same as Broadwell but in the desktop market they will both share the new Z97/H97 chipset and LGA 1150 socket so there are some similarities. Haswell refresh is still 22nm Haswell but more refined while Broadwell is a reduction in process size from 22nm to 14nm.

Now onto the bad news which is that the Y, U and H series of Broadwell CPUs have all been delayed. The Y series sees the Core i5 5220Y and Core i3 4030Y “Haswell Refresh” CPUs still arriving in Q3 but the Broadwell processors in the series will not arrive until the fourth quarter at the earliest with many more parts arriving in Q1 of 2015. In the U series it is a similar story with most Broadwell parts pushed back to either Q4 of 2014 or Q1 of 2015 but Haswell refresh parts will still arrive this year in Q3  In the H series the Broadwell parts will not arrive until Q1 of 2015 while all the scheduled Haswell refresh parts should launch in Q2 and Q3 of this year.

The delay of the Broadwell U series is expected to cause problems for Apple who will have to delay the release of their new MacBook Air products, though the delay will be segment specific because not all U series parts are delayed by the same amount. For those wondering about H97/Z97 and the Haswell refresh parts for the desktop apparently their isn’t much change over the current desktop Haswell “stuff”. The Haswell refresh parts will mostly just boast a slight speed bump while the H97/Z97 motherboards are rumoured to bring nothing new to the market. As a result VR-Zone expects demand for the new Haswell chipset and refresh parts to be sluggish. In the mobile market it is much of the same for Haswell refresh – mild speed bumps and more mature processors which should give better power consumption.

Images courtesy of VR-Zone

Source: VR-Zone