Back in 2015, microprocessor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) announced that it would be breaking with its long-standing "tick-tock" development methodology. Under this model, the company would deliver two product families with a given chip-manufacturing technology over roughly two years before transitioning to a new manufacturing technology.
Starting with the company's 14-nanometer manufacturing technology, though, the company has shifted to a development model by which it does three product generations over roughly three years using a given technology.
Intel's 14-nanometer processor family will ultimately have three members: Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake.
Thanks to a leak from the generally reliable website BenchLife.info, it appears that Kaby Lake represents a substantial improvement -- at least for low-power devices -- over Skylake. Let's take a closer look.
A major step forward for Core M
Between two processors with the same underlying architecture, a processor that's rated at a higher clock speed -- usually measured in gigahertz (GHz) -- will be faster than a processor rated at a lower speed.
The fastest Core M processor based on the company's Skylake architecture runs at a 1.2GHz base frequency and features a maximum single turbo speed of 3.1GHz and a maximum dual-core turbo speed of 2.9GHz. According to the BenchLife leak, the fastest Kaby Lake-based Core M chip will feature a maximum single-core turbo speed of 3.6GHz and a maximum dual-core turbo speed of 3.4GHz.
These are fairly significant jumps in frequency, and they are likely to translate into a real boost in performance for very low-power notebooks such as the MacBook, as well as for 2-in-1 convertible devices such as the Surface Pro.
A smaller step for Core i7
BenchLife also has information on Intel's Core i7-7500U, a part rated at a 15-watt thermal design power, targeted at more traditional thin-and-light notebook/Ultrabook form factors. The CPU will apparently sport a base clock of 2.7GHz and both single- and dual-core turbo speeds will come in at 3.5GHz.
The prior generation Skylake-based Core i7-6500U runs at a base frequency of 2.5GHz with maximum single-core and dual-core turbo speeds coming in at 3.1GHz and 3.0GHz, respectively. The higher end Core i7-6600U has a base clock of 2.6GHz with maximum single-core and dual-core turbo speeds of 3.4GHz and 3.2GHz, respectively.
It would seem that with Kaby Lake, Intel is able to deliver higher speeds in a given power envelope.
Kaby Lake is looking like a reasonable product
It would seem that Intel intends to deliver generation-on-generation CPU performance improvements with Kaby Lake by way of higher clock speeds; it's not clear whether Intel has also made any improvements to the underlying CPU architecture in order to deliver an improvement in performance-per-clock.
At any rate, better CPU performance, coupled with expected improvements in the media subsystem, should make for a reasonable generation-on-generation improvement, at least for low-power systems.
It will be interesting to see if the higher-performance Kaby Lake products, particularly those aimed at high-performance laptops and mobile workstations as well as desktops, will see similar generation-on-generation bumps in performance.
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.