Five new things we know about Skylake

Intel's Skylake chips will be released after Windows 10, and tablets, laptops and desktops will follow in quick succession

Asus VivoPC VM65N mini-desktop at Computex

Asus VivoPC VM65N mini-desktop at Computex

With the upcoming release of Intel's Skylake chips, there's a lot to look forward to, including faster computers, fewer ports and wireless charging. At Computex in Taipei Intel shed more light on the new chip technology, a much hyped successor to Intel's family of Broadwell family of chips. Here are five things we learned:

1) Skylake chips won't be released when Windows 10 becomes commercially available on July 29, so PCs with a combination of the new OS and chip technology won't be immediately available, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during an interview at Computex. Intel has built Skylake to work hand-in-glove with Windows 10, which among other new features offers biometric authentication that will allow a user's fingerprint or face to replace a typed password. Skaugen declined to provide a specific release date, but Skylake could be the centerpiece announcement at the Intel Developer Forum in mid-August. PCs could follow soon after.

2) Mobile and desktop chips will be released at about the same time: Intel will launch a whole line of Skylake chips for tablets, laptops and desktops without a long wait between releases, Skaugen said. Intel usually releases chips in phases, based on form factors. For example, Core M tablet chips were the first Broadwell processors, with laptop chips following four to five months later. Core M may likewise be the first Skylake chip, though this time, laptop and desktop processors would come swiftly afterward.

3) Manufacturers have Skylake PCs details set: Asus at Computex announced Zen AiO all-in-one desktops that have support for DDR4 memory and USB 3.1. The company also showed mini-desktops capable of 4K video. Intel showed a 7.8-inch millimeter thick tablet with a USB Type-C port on stage during a keynote at Computex. Dell has said it will ship Skylake chips in the second half of the year.

4) A wide variety of leading brands are on board with Wire-free computing: Intel wants to eliminate wire and cable clutter from PCs by offering wireless charging and data transfer circuitry in Skylake chipsets and motherboards. Users will be able to recharge laptops by placing them on tables or surfaces that support wireless charging based on magnetic resonance technology. Intel is getting restaurants, airports, cafes, appliance makers and car companies to install wireless charging surfaces. Hilton hotels, Emirates airlines, San Francisco Airport, Starbucks, Haier and Jaguar Land Rover are among those who have signed up. Another Intel plan to replace ports in laptops with wireless data transfer technology is a bit further out. Laptops will be able to wirelessly connect to portable hard drives, monitors and other external peripherals through a technology called WiGig, which can transfer data at 7Gbps (bits per second). But peripherals will also need WiGig circuitry, and it may be a while until that happens.

5) Thunderbolt 3 will start with Skylake: Intel is forecasting that about 30 laptops, tablets and desktops will ship by the end of the year with Thunderbolt 3, a new data transfer technology running on USB Type-C cables. At 40Gbps (bits per second), Thunderbolt is two times faster than its predecessor, and four times faster than USB 3.1 technology. It will also be possible to connect USB devices into the Thunderbolt ports. Do you need the blazing speed of Thunderbolt? Perhaps, if you want to connect two 4K displays to your PC simultaneously.

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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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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