DigiTimes reports that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) will be launching the first of its next-generation Skylake microprocessors at the Gamescom conference, which is expected to be held between August 5 and August 9. In particular, Intel is said to be launching the Core i5-6600K and Core i7-6700K, which are "unlocked" parts -- meaning that they can be tweaked by users to run at speeds faster than the speed at which Intel ships them.
Accompanying the processors will be the Z170 chipsets, which will be the highest end of the chipsets that will support Skylake, according to DigiTimes.
Then, between August 30 and September 5, Intel is expected to launch lower-end, lower-power, and dual-core models. The H110 chipset, which will offer fewer features than the top-tier Z170, is reportedly coming between September 27 and October 3. The business-oriented chipsets -- namely the Q170 and the Q150 -- are said to be launching in the October-November time frame.
Notebook parts during the fourth quarter
Although the desktop parts should roll out during the third quarter of 2015, DigiTimes says that laptop chips based on the Skylake architecture will hit the market during the fourth quarter of 2015. It's not clear whether this means that systems will arrive in the fourth quarter, or whether the chips will ship to system vendors in that time, meaning that actual systems would launch later.
However, given that the PC market desperately needs any sort of boost that it can get from better chips -- and the platform features that those chips will enable -- I would hope, as an Intel investor, that compelling new laptops will be on the shelves during the fourth quarter.
That said, in a recent investor presentation, major PC vendor ASUS said that it would launch Skylake with Windows 10 "for Mainstream/ZenBook/Gaming." This would suggest to me that we should see laptops based on Skylake processors on the shelves by the fourth quarter in order to try to boost demand during the holiday shopping season.
The sooner we see Skylake, the better
Although Skylake, in itself, should be a compelling new chip that offers performance enhancements, as well as platform-level improvements, the main reason Skylake needs to get here sooner rather than later is that the system vendors are probably focusing their design efforts on Skylake. At the end of the day, end users buy systems, not chips. From what I can tell, a good number of the Broadwell-based systems on the market are just minor upgrades of Haswell systems that came before.
Perhaps the prime example of this would be the latest Apple MacBook Airs, which -- aside from some internal tweaks and a Broadwell processor -- were nearly identical to the 2014 MacBook Airs. And those 2014 MacBook Airs were essentially the 2013 MacBook Airs with slightly faster Haswell processors.
With Skylake, because the platform is new, system vendors will likely do new system designs around it. Those new systems will probably be better in a number of key ways than the Haswell/Broadwell systems, beyond just CPU/graphics performance, which could help convince users to upgrade older systems.
I suspect that by the time the Intel Developer Forum begins on August 18, Intel will announce when it plans to release all of its Skylake-based chips for both desktops and notebooks.