Why Did Intel Corporation Delay This Gaming Processor?

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: Intel.

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The folks at website BenchLife.info recently leaked an Intel product road map, showing the products that the company intends to release through the second quarter of 2017. According to that road map, the first desktop processors based on the company's next-generation Kaby Lake architecture will arrive sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016.

However, according to that same road map, the company's first gaming-centric Kaby Lake processor, referred to as Kaby Lake-X won't arrive until the second quarter of 2017.

Today, I'd like to offer up an explanation for why Intel is doing this.

It's probably about keeping branding consistent

For gamers/desktop enthusiasts, Intel currently offers two product lines. The first are unlocked variants of the company's common (or mainstream) quad-core desktop processors. These chips can be pushed to speeds well north of what Intel rates them at, and for that privilege Intel charges a slight premium to their locked counterparts.

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Beyond those chips, Intel offers what are referred to as high-end desktop (or HEDT) processors. The current lineup ranges from six to 10 cores, and such chips require different motherboards from the ones that the quad core chips use.

Despite the differences between the high-end desktop lineup and the mainstream unlocked desktop chips, the branding is now very consistent. Here is the current product stack:

Product

Price

Platform

6950X

$1,723

HEDT

6900K

$1,109

HEDT

6850K

$628

HEDT

6800K

$441

HEDT

6700K

$350

Mainstream

6600K

$243

Mainstream

Data source: Intel ARK.

Right now, from a naming perspective, the product stack makes a lot of sense. This previously wasn't the case. Before Intel launched the Broadwell-E high-end desktop chips at the end of May, the product stack actually looked like this:

Product

Price

Platform

5960X

$1,059

HEDT

5930K

$594

HEDT

5820K

$396

HEDT

6700K

$350

Mainstream

6600K

$243

Mainstream

Data source: Intel ARK.

This product stack is not well named at all. The more expensive, higher-end products were named in a way to let customers know that those chips were a full generation behind the cheaper mainstream offerings. From a marketing perspective, this was less than ideal and may have, to some degree, pushed customers toward the lower end (pricing wise) of its gaming/enthusiast processor stack.

Pushing out Kaby Lake-X solves that problem

Intel's next high-end desktop platform is known as Skylake-X (according to BenchLife), based on the workstation version of the upcoming Skylake-EP family platform (known as Skylake-W, also per BenchLife). Since Skylake-EP/Skylake-W won't arrive until the second quarter of 2017, Intel has two choices from a product release perspective.

It can either launch the Kaby Lake-X processors (based on the mainstream Kaby Lake chips) in late 2016 (which will be branded as 7th Generation Core) and then continue to sell 6th Generation Core high-end desktop chips until it can get Skylake-X out.

Or, Intel can just postpone Kaby Lake-X until it is able to launch Skylake-X and present gaming/enthusiast customers with a complete top-to-bottom product stack under the 7th Generation Core branding.

It would seem, based on the leak from BenchLife, that Intel is choosing the latter.

The article Why Did Intel Corporation Delay This Gaming Processor? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.