Intel Corporation's Kaby Lake for Desktops Looks Like a Winner

By Markets Fool.com

Intel's new chip-development methodology. Image credit: Intel.

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Last year, microprocessor giant Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) released products based on its Skylake architecture for desktop systems. Skylake represented a brand-new architecture manufactured in the company's then-new 14-nanometer manufacturing technology.

Although the lineup of Skylake-based desktop processors consisted of a wide range of products, perhaps the two most interesting parts were the Core i5-6600K and Core i7-6700K, targeted at gaming PCs -- a sub-segment of the PC market that, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, "continues to grow at a double-digit rate."

According to a leak via Chinese website coolaler.com, the company's gaming-PC-oriented processors based on its upcoming Kaby Lake architecture should pack quite a punch.

Solid boost in clock frequencies

The prior-generation 6600K ran at a base frequency of 3.5GHz and a maximum turbo frequency of 3.9GHz. The higher-end 6700K came at 4GHz base and a maximum turbo speed of 4.2GHz.

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The 6700K wound up faster than the 22-nanometer Core i7-4790K that it replaced as a result of greater performance per clock (that is, the new chip family can do more work at a given frequency than the prior-generation one). However, it's worth noting that the 4790K actually ran at 4.2GHz base and 4.4GHz turbo -- slightly higher frequencies than the newer 6700K chip.

Per the leak from coolaler.com, the upcoming 7700K, based on Kaby Lake, will run at a 4.2 GHz base frequency and manage to hit a 4.5GHz maximum turbo speed out of the box. This means that performance, assuming that performance per clock doesn't change, should move up by at least 5%.

Additionally, if Intel is able to hit 4.5GHz maximum turbo on a single core out of the box on the top Kaby Lake desktop part, the new chips may also have more headroom than the prior generation in terms of overclocking capability (overclocking is the process by which the user adjusts the chip speed to run at higher levels than what the chip is rated at out of the box).

Enabled by Intel's enhanced 14-nanometer process?

Earlier this week, Intel talked about the performance enhancements that it's bringing to the table with its second-generation 14-nanometer manufacturing technology, known as 14-nanometer+. According to the company, 14-nanometer+ has 12% better performance than its first-generation 14-nanometer technology.

Based on the speed boosts we're seeing here with Kaby Lake, it would appear that the frequency gains are related primarily to the enhanced chip-manufacturing technology.

Desktop Kaby Lake looks like a winner

Although it would have been nice to see Intel improve the underlying CPU architecture of Kaby Lake to wring even more performance enhancements out of the chip (Intel probably didn't have enough time to do this given that Kaby Lake was added sort of at the proverbial last minute), Kaby Lake looks like a solid successor to the current-generation Skylake chips.

I doubt that many owners of the 6600K/6700K chips will rush out and buy systems based on the new Kaby Lake chips, but for owners of older platforms who may have skipped out on Skylake in pursuit of something better, Kaby Lake might just be the ticket.

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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.