So this is a brief summary of the differences between Intel’s Skylake and Kaby Lake processors. It will probably be different from the usual enthusiast viewpoint as most of our customers are more worried about system security than being able to max frame rates or avoid DRM. Both are LG1151 socket processors (in desktop form).
So what the heck is a Kaby Lake? It’s just the next lake themed name for an Intel chip generation. The ‘current generation’ (at time of writing) of processors is called Skylake. Skylake is a 14nm chip, which is a ‘tock’ improvement to ‘Broadwell-E’. Intel has been improving their processors in a fashion they describe as “Tick” “Tock” for a while now. When they release a new Process (shrink everything), it’s a “Tick”. When they release an improved version of that architecture, it’s a “Tock”. A bit like Apple and iPhones. iPhone6, iPhone 6S etc. But Kaby Lake is a “tock”! Apparently the next “tick” generation is called “Cannonlake” and that will be a 10nm based architecture. However it’s late. Like 2.5+ years from the last tick. So Intel is releasing Kaby Lake to fill the gap. And inventing a new release strategy called “Process, Architecture, Optimization”. So Kaby Lake is an “Optimization”
Phew. Now that we have got the names out of the way, what does Kaby Lake get you that Skylake didn’t?
Well the main thing that has the internet buzzing is… You can’t run Windows 7. Bowing to pressure from Microsoft, Intel has made sure that you can’t run Windows 7 on a Kaby Lake processor. Before getting too mad at Intel, it’s worth knowing that Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 8996 SOC and AMD’s upcoming Bristol Ridge APU will also not work with Windows 7… (Note it may be possible to load Win 7 but there will be no security updates)
Now as I mentioned earlier, most of our customers are more interested in security than running the latest Blue-ray ripping software. BUT they also want to run Windows 7. At least for now. The US military is working on transitioning to windows 10, but is, as usual with these things, somewhat behind the curve. The most advanced defense-programs I am working with are going to be Windows 10 ready by 2017. Sometime.
OK – So what does Kaby Lake get you, other than a compatibility headache?
1. It’s newer, smaller and more power efficient.
2. Native USB 3.1 support. (No need for a third party chipset) This is good.
3. It comes with support for HDCP 2.2 (High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection). HDCP is required to rent movies on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, and stops the stream being intercepted between processor and display. Yet more reasons for the overclocking crew to hate Kaby Lake. Not sure if it helps the military lock down systems or not.
4. Optane storage – support for a specific storage system for a new type of SSD. (more PCIe lanes, 3-D XPoint non-volatile memory media with Intel’s advanced system memory controller, interface hardware and software IP.)
5. Improved 4K and 3D support.
I am still trying to work out the security features and will update once I have them nailed down.
Update: Nice comprehensive review from PCWORLD. PCWorld_reviews_Kaby_lake