Intel Corporation's Broadwell and Skylake Desktop Strategy Decoded

Thanks to Chinese website PC Online, the following Intel desktop processor product road map is now available for all to see:

Source: PC Online.

Notice that Intel plans to launch the Broadwell-based i7-5775C and i5-5675C processors with GT3e graphics during the second quarter of 2015. In the third quarter of 2015, Intel plans to launch Core i7- and Core i5-based chips based on its Skylake architecture.

As the preceding slide shows, Intel plans for both Skylake and Broadwell to coexist on the desktop until, at the very least, the first quarter of 2016. This tells us a lot about what Intel's strategy with respect to Broadwell and Skylake on the desktop are.

Graphics or CPU performance -- what do you value more? The i7-5775C and i5-5675C are expected to feature 48 Intel-designed Gen. 8 graphics cores as well as on-package eDRAM. The Skylake-S parts, in contrast, are expected to come with 24 Intel-designed Gen. 9 graphics cores and won't feature on-package memory.

For users who require more CPU performance but don't care as much about integrated graphics performance, Skylake-S will be the best choice. For users who don't mind sacrificing some CPU performance in exchange for much better integrated graphics performance, the Broadwell-based parts will be the correct choice.

Understanding the Broadwell/Skylake co-existence and transitionIntel has talked for quite some time about how it plans to launch Skylake processors in the second half of the year. However, with these desktop-oriented Broadwell chips as well as the high-performance notebook-oriented Broadwell chips coming in "mid-2015," it wasn't entirely clear how Intel planned to manage the Broadwell/Skylake coexistence.

Well, until now.

The way I see it is that for high-performance laptops and all-in-ones, Broadwell chips with powerful onboard graphics will be Intel's top offerings until, at the very least, the second quarter of 2016. Skylake chips will show up as Core i3, i5, and i7 chips aimed at traditional desktop towers and Ultrabooks. A Skylake-based Core M for very thin notebooks and 2-in-1 devices should also come later this year, says Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

Then, I expect that sometime in the second quarter of 2016, Intel will start rolling out the larger Skylake chips (i.e., the ones with much larger integrated graphics) and phasing out the high-performance mobile Broadwell chips.

Why do it like this?It's well known at this point that Intel never launches all of the chips in a given family at the same time; it'll launch chips aimed at a particular market segment and then roll out other variants aimed at different power and performance levels later.

In this case, Intel seems to be doing the sensible thing and is launching smaller chips first. I would imagine it's easier to get the smaller chips to qualify for sale, so it makes sense to get those out of the door first.

In the meantime, Intel has solidly competitive Broadwell chips to service the higher-power and higher-performance segments of the market.

We'll probably see this playbook with 10-nanometer Cannonlake as wellI suspect that going forward, we'll see a similar pattern with Intel's products: The chips with the smallest silicon area will go into production first, and as yields improve, the larger chips will go into production.

That means that, if history holds, the first 10-nanometer chips released will be the relatively small Core M and lower-end Ultrabook models, followed by the larger Ultrabook models (i.e., the ones with faster graphics), with the largest high-performance notebook and desktop models coming last.

The article Intel Corporation's Broadwell and Skylake Desktop Strategy Decoded originally appeared on

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. 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.

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