Intel May Increase Mainstream Core Count for Cannonlake

Intel has long limited the mainstream platform to 4 physical cores, with 8 threads due only to Hyper-Threading. This has held true for the longest time, with power users who wanted more cores making the jump to LGA 1366 and 2011. According to an Intel CPU engineer profile, Intel will start offering more cores starting with Cannonlake in 2017. Instead of a jump to 6 cores, the alleged Cannonlake SoC will feature up to 8 cores.

While some may say that this is a server processor, that is unlikely due to the SoC designation. That usually points to a mobile environment, with an attached GPU and other dedicated hardware on the same chip. The biggest question is whether or not this core-count increase is going towards mobile devices or the higher performance desktop platform. As we all know, the mobile world ahs become obsessed with core counts so a low power extreme multi-core CPU may be there for marketing. That segment would be better served though by a 10nm shrink of Goldmont from the Atom lineup which should still exist in 2017.

One of the reasons Intel may be moving to more cores on the mainstream platform in 2017, is that software is slowly starting to feed 4 cores quite well. Even with Hyper-Threading, 4 cores may simply not cut it. By pushing more cores to mainstream users, Intel is also pushing software developers who have generally been loath to make their software more-multithreaded. Another reason is that by 10nm, Intel will have enough space and cost savings to allow for 6 and even 8 cores to be cheap enough to produce. 10nm will be 4 times smaller than the 32nm process, allowing for many more chips per wafer.

Finally, 2017 is also the year that AMD will launch their Zen architecture. Set  to provide a 40% IPC over current Excavator chips, the new lineup is set to arrive on a 1x nm process and feature up to 8/16 cores +  SMT (AMD’s Hyper-Threading) on the mainstream platform.It may be that Intel perceives Zen may be a threat to their mainstream platform and is taking proper precautions. Whatever the reason, 2017 looks to be a really interesting year for CPUs, with major product introductions from both camps.

Thank you The Motley Fool for providing us with this information

Intel Prepping 5×5 Mini PC with LGA Socket

Users have long been chiming for a smaller form factor smaller than the current mini-ITX. Intel does have the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) and other vendors have their solutions. Most of these are quite limited in upgradeability and tend to have few if any expansion slots, limiting functionality. In response to this Intel is launching an all new form factor, dubbed “5×5”.

Revealed at IDF, the 5×5 will measure 140mm x 148mm, which is 5.5”×5.8”, making the 5×5 more of a 6×6 really. Being 30% smaller than mini-ITX, the 5×5 will also feature a fixed CPU position and more importantly, support LGA CPUs. Intel is planning to support i3, i5 and i7 CPUs right from the start with integrated graphics. The 5×5 will have uniform CPU and board mounting holes and will support CPUs from 35 to 65W TDP. The platform can probably go lower, but Intel probably doesn’t have plans for a sub 35W LGA chip.

Despite being more flexible than the NUC, discrete graphics won’t be supported as the z-height is targeting 39mm. There is a lot of other I/O though with 2 SO-DIMM slots, a M.2 SSD connector, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card port, a SATA port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 HDMI outputs and Gigabit Ethernet. While the boards will likely be sold standalone, Intel is hoping the chassis and the board will match up, providing a good combo for placing the heatsinks and 2.5″ drives.

Intel has not released any information yet about the expected launch for 5×5, but it probably isn’t far off. While integrated graphics can be limiting, a Skylake LGA chip with GT4 graphics and 128MB of eDRAM will make for a pretty strong small factor gaming rig. If Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 are supported in the future, external graphics might also be possible. Hopefully, Intel can get buy-in from motherboard makers. It will also be interesting to see if AMD will try to get into the game by offering their own 5×5 boards with APUs.

Images courtesy of Intel and

Intel Launches Broadwell Desktop At Last

Delayed so long that rumors were spreading that there would never be a desktop launch, Intel has at last launched Broadwell for the desktop. The meant to follow the Haswell Tock, Broadwell was aimed at improving efficiency, quite minor tweaks and a move to the 14nm process. The complexity of 14nm production caused Broadwell to be severely delayed, with only Core-M, a mobile variant, being released last year. Desktop users had to make do with Haswell-Refresh but no more.

While there are mobile Broadwell chips launching today, the focus is on the 5 desktop CPUs. There are the i5-5575R, i5-5675R, i5-5675C, i7-5775R, and i7-5775C. All 5 processors are compatible with Z97 and H97 motherboards. However, with the exception of the C processors, they are all BGA chips, meaning they come soldered directly onto the motherboard. This means the R chips, like the 4770R before, will likely only be sold by OEMs or as part of a motherboard bundle. The C chips being unlocked (C is the new K), are LGA and the standard BIOS update for your motherboard should suffice.

The biggest change is for the frist time, Intel’s Iris Pro graphics, in this case, HD6200, are being sold with an LGA and overclockable SKU. While most users getting an unlocked chip tend to use dGPU, the addition of a strong iGPU is good for cases where you need to do an RMA or the dGPU croaks. More importantly, Iris Pro graphics means the chip comes with Crystal well, a 128MB eDRAM that acts like L4 cache. This fast low latency memory can provide a boost to single threaded performance that many might be interested in.

Broadwell on desktop, despite being unlocked and with an eDRAM cache, may face a cold reception. Skylake, Intel’s next Tock with a new architecture, is set to release later this year. With its replacement on its way o soon, Broadwell may have a tough time convincing consumers it’s a viable choice. Maybe Intel may ver well surprise us by holding Skylake desktop back, or maybe it’ll refrain from offering eDRAM on the i7 6700K? The issue becomes dicier as Broadwell desktop is only set for public availability near the end of the month.

Intel’s New Serverboard Supports Dual CPU and 2TB RAM

If a lot isn’t enough for you, then Intel might have what you’re looking for. Their latest server motherboard, the S2600CW2, has been spotted for sale in Japan and not only has 2 Intel LGA2011-v3 sockets, but also supports up to 2TB RAM.

The motherboard supports CPUs up to a maximum of 145W TDP, so if you were to equip it with E5-2699v3 CPUs, then you’ll end up with 36 cores and 72 threads to deal with all that memory. ASUS’ current equivalent motherboard only supports half the memory, so it’s quite a difference.

The downside to the already heavy costs of such a system, or upside if price isn’t an issue for you, is that the motherboard is using DDR4 ECC RDIMMs and LRDIMMs up to 2133MHz. But you’ll also get 84 PCIe lanes, 10 SATA ports with PCH SATA 6G RAID, plenty of USB 2 and 3 ports, as well as dual Gigabit Ethernet.

The motherboard is currently selling for about £430, which isn’t too bad in itself.

Thanks to PC Watch for providing us with this information

More Details On Intel Skylake Revealed: 14nm, DDR4, Low TDPs

Intel is supposed to be launching their Skylake platform at some stage in 2015. Skylake will succeed Broadwell and it will be a “tock” in the Intel Tick-Tock model as it maintains the same 14nm process node but opts for a new microarchitecture. Skylake will bring DDR4 memory support and an improved graphics processing unit. There will be four variations of Skylake: U and Y series CPUs for ultra low power devices such as tablets and ultrabooks. H series CPUs for high performance mobile and all-in-one form factors and finally the S series which is for traditional socketed desktop CPUs.

Intel’s U and Y series CPUs will integrate the PCH on-die, so are effectively SoCs, Intel’s H and S series CPUs will require an external PCH, or chipset. The H and S series CPUs now communicate with the PCH over DMI 3.0, instead of the current DMI 2.0, and they will be dual channel CPUs. The U and Y series CPUs will be single channel. In terms of core counts the U and Y CPUs will have 2 cores and support LPDDR3 memory  up to 1600MHz. The Y parts have GT2 graphics with a 4W TDP and the U parts GT2 graphics with a 15W TDP. There will also be “special” versions of the U series CPUs that come with 64MB of eDRAM and better GT3 graphics, these have 15 and 28W TDPs.

Moving onto the all-important H and S series parts now, the H series CPUs will have 4 cores with GT2 or GT4e graphics. The GT2 parts have 35 and 45W TDPs while the GT4e parts have 45W TDPs and 128MB of eDRAM cache. Unlike the U and Y series parts the H series parts have full support for DDR4 memory up to 2133MHz. The S parts, which are the desktop socketed CPUs, are offered in dual and quad core models as expected. The dual core models come with GT2 graphics and in 35 or 65W parts. The quad core models come with GT2 or GT4e graphics, except they get 64MB not 128MB of eDRAM.The TDP for these parts will be 35W and 65W but there will also be some 95W TDP parts with GT2 graphics. Presumably these will be the high-end enthusiast skews because there is no reason to give them anything other than basic entry-level GT2 graphics as most people will not use them. These S series parts will support DDR4 2133 but some of them will also support DDR3L and DDR3L-RS to allow for compact and SFF systems to be built.

The H, U and Y series CPUs will all be produced in soldered BGA packages – some are rumoured to have configurable TDPs. The S series CPUs come in the LGA 1151 package and are socketed.

Source: CPU-World

Image courtesy of VR-Zone

6 New Boards On The Horizon From MSI for Intel’s 5th Gen Chipset

Over the last few weeks we have been hearing some interesting information come to light regarding Intel’s 5th Generation chipset and its Haswell Refresh processors and with a launch date of 11th May only a matter of weeks away now, we are starting to see snippets of information come through with regards to the motherboards that are going to power the 5th Generation processors.

MSI have been throwing out some teasers of what is to come in their latest motherboard lineup and whilst some boards were on display at this year’s CeBIT in Germany, they were only prototype items. This means that whilst they give us an insight into what is on offer when the boards finally go on sale, what is seen is only to be taken with a pinch of salt and things are likely to change between then and the final release.

So what do we know about the new line of motherboards and what features will we see across the product stack? Like previous generation boards we will see the latest release of many features including Military Class IV components, V-Check Points 2, OC Engine, Audio Boost 2 and new to this line of boards we will also see an M.2 interface for the latest SSDs as standard and a Delid Die Guard for the XPower AC as seen last week.

To break up what each board will bring to the market, have a look at the next couple of pages where I’ll touch on what each board has to offer as we go up through the stack. At the moment there is no work on pricing for any of these boards, although we will be certain to keep you all updated as information comes to light.

Intel Roadmap Reveals More BGA Package CPUs

Intel’s BGA processors are definitely going to become a bigger part of Intel’s portfolio in the future and by the looks of things these BGA packages are mainly designed to transform the bottom segment of the market – that is Pentium, Celeron and Atom processor segmentations. The latest roadmap has outlined Intel’s BGA plans and as you can see by Q4 of this year we will see a whole new array of Bay Trail-D based BGA processors from Intel. For those who are unaware BGA is “ball grid array” and LGA is “land grid array”. Essentially BGA means the processor comes pre-fitted, often soldered, into a motherboard with a chipset. This way the motherboard, chipset and CPU is one complete whole and cannot be customised separately. BGAs are best viewed as SoCs (system on chips).

Furthermore Intel are not neglecting the top end of the market either with a single Core i7 BGA processor and two Core i5 BGA processors. All the key specifications are here for you to see but what’s interesting is that Intel’s high performance BGA processors all have the Iris Pro graphics which are actually very strong – better than those on AMD’s APU (like the A10-6800K) – though the Caveat is that Intel’s BGA processors will likely cost twice as much. All these BGA processors will lead the Intel BGA charge well into mid/late 2014. BGA processors will continue to sit alongside LGA processors and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying, BGA will not be replacing LGA – at least not anytime soon.

Images and information courtesy of MyCE

Intel’s Haswell To Ship In Three BGA Packages

There has been much speculation in the industry about whether Intel will stop making LGA package processors in favour of BGA package processors. Well, this speculation may have some traction in the long term but in the short term we can see that Intel are doing very little with Haswell and the BGA package.

Put simply, BGA packages are those whereby the processor is fused into the motherboard. This means that the processor is not removable and if the processor or motherboard become faulty the entire BGA package of the motherboard and CPU has to be replaced. While the LGA package is what we currently see whereby motherboards and processors are sold separately and you can mix any same socket motherboard with same socket CPU.

Intel’s Haswell was rumoured to be dominated by BGA packages and pessimists were citing the end of the PC market as we know it. Haswell does indeed have BGA packages, but they are minimal in terms of their number and look set to be targeted at Intel’s NUC system only.

The BGA package Haswell processors can be seen in the below table, they are denoted by an “R” in Intel’s Haswell series. They come in quad core variants only, with 65W TDPs and 6 or 4MBs of cache. All feature turbo boost and varying clock speeds depending on how high up the product chain they are placed. Only one model features hyper threading and that is the i7 4770R.

The 65W TDP is important as it is much less than the 84W TDP of the desktop variants. The main selling point is the Intel HD 5200 GT3 graphics which are expected to be miles better than the Intel HD 4600 GT graphics on Haswell LGA processors and significantly better than the HD 4000 graphics on some current Ivy Bridge processors.

The launch is likely to be alongside the Haswell desktop and mobile launch in June sometime. As mentioned Intel will definitely try and push these alongside their NUC (next unit of computing) systems and may have NUCs prefitted with these processors ready to ship on launch.

What are your thoughts on BGA package Haswell processors?


Intel Decided To Stick With LGA Platform With Skylake Chips

Intel has updated its longterm roadmap, the roadmap indicated that Intel isn’t pushing the BGA platform into the desktop market and therefore eliminating the upgradability factor in PC Desktop platforms.

It also showed that the upgradeable LGA socket mounting will be used at least till 2015. Intel would stick with 95% of their desktop processor lineup with LGA. By then processors codenamed Skylake will have a socket month. Just like atom and many low powered units, entry level Broadwell and Skylake chips will have BGA mount.

It was only last year when Intel made plans to ditch the LGA platform and have a BGA mount, where the processors will be soldered to the motherboard, therefore restricting inter-changeability of processors on existing motherboards.

Usually BGA is used in units such as utrabooks and AIO desktop units so that the manufacturers will be able to accommodate thinner form factor. But implementing this on the DIY desktop PC market would not only affect the desktop market, but also increase a risk of loss due to stockpiling as companies will have no choice but to have large quantities of motherboards of a model with different combinations of embedded processors.

When the news broke out that Haswell would be the last to have LGA socket mount and Broadwell will be the first to have embedded solution for the mainstream desktop PC market, this created criticism not just by industry’s experts, but also from power users, hardware enthusiasts and often a topic filled with a series of heated debates across multiple internet forums. While its true that BGA has its advantages, especially in regards to costs, its difficult to think that a company as dominating as Intel would decide to implement such a change that will dramatically affect one of their business products where they enjoy and thrive on success, even over AMD from time-to-time.

Source: Xbit Labs