Dell plans laptops with Intel's Skylake chips in second half of year

Dell is bypassing Intel's new Broadwell processors on some laptops

Dell's XPS 13 with Broadwell (7)

Dell's XPS 13 with Broadwell (7)

Wire-free computing could be around the corner, with Dell planning to release laptops based on Intel's Skylake chips in the second half of the year.

Intel believes that Skylake, the latest in its Core series, is the most significant processor it has released in the last decade. It's based on a new circuit design and promises significant increases in performance, battery life and power efficiency.

Dell appears to agree that Skylake has compelling features, and will release new and upgraded laptops with the chip in the second half of the year, said Frank Azor, Dell's general manager for XPS and Alienware products.

Though it promises a variety of features, Skylake is generating excitement mainly because it's expected to reduce the need for power cords, display connectors and other peripheral cables. Skylake laptops can have wireless charging, and also carry display and data signals wirelessly, which could spell the end for HDMI, DisplayPort and even USB cables.

The Skylake chips will succeed Intel's fifth-generation Core processors, based on the Broadwell architecture. Dell is taking a pass on upgrading to Broadwell in many of its laptops, and instead will jump directly to Skylake.

Intel typically upgrades its Core chips on a yearly basis, but is making an exception with Skylake as it tries to quickly close the curtain on Broadwell's troubled existence. The Core chips based on Broadwell were delayed, and Intel now wants to bring Skylake technology to buyers as quickly as possible.

Mainstream PCs with Broadwell were expected last year, but were delayed following manufacturing issues delayed chip shipments. On some laptops, Dell's bypassing Broadwell and is sticking with older Core chips (code-named Haswell) and then upgrading directly to Skylake.

Like Dell, many PC makers are expected to latch on to Skylake as soon as it hits the market. For Dell, the cost of transitioning from the older Haswell chips to Broadwell in some laptops wasn't worth it, and going straight to Skylake makes more sense, Azor said.

Consumers typically buy new laptops as needed. But those who care about performance and features may also skip Broadwell and wait for Skylake, and the likelihood of that will increase as the year moves along.

Nonetheless, Broadwell's performance and power-efficiency features are impressive, Azor said. Dell is using Broadwell chips in its new XPS 13 laptop, which is 15 millimeters thick and offers 15 hours of battery life. More laptops will be upgraded to Broadwell later this year.

Microsoft is also releasing the Windows 10 operating system later this year, and Skylake will be tuned to operate with the new OS. The Skylake chips will be made using the 14-nanometer process. Other than providing a second-half guideline, Dell did not provide a specific date on which it would ship laptops with Skylake chips.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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