Intel has shared new details about its faster, more power-efficient Skylake processors at IDF 2015 in San Francisco. PCWorld reports that Intel engineers have suggested the sixth-generation Core processors could launch in around "two weeks," setting the stage for a possible announcement of new chips appropriate for Macs at the IFA Berlin trade show on September 4-9.
3 4K Mac
Skylake processors will feature improved Iris Pro integrated graphics capable of driving up to three 4K monitors at 60Hz, whereas Haswell architecture could drive a single 4K monitor at 30Hz and Broadwell architecture could handle a single 4K monitor at 60Hz. Skylake will also have fixed-function support for 4K video processing in hardware and support for the latest APIs: DirectX 12, OpenCL 2 and OpenGL 4.4.
Intel's six generations of processor graphics (Image: Ars Technica)
That means Intel has dedicated transistors directly to the job of decoding and encoding 4K. In one demonstration showing playback of a 4K RAW video stream from a Canon video camera, playback was smooth using the Skylake graphics chip, while using just the CPU, it would constantly drop frames.
Skylake architecture is also more power efficient thanks to a new power-saving feature called Speed Shift, which allows the CPU to intelligently adjust its power state for extended battery life. Skylake CPUs are also more efficient overall and feature eDRAM+, which can cache information, for increased performance.
In June, Intel introduced Thunderbolt 3 with a USB Type-C connector and support for USB 3.1, DisplayPort 1.2 and PCI Express 3.0. The new spec, rumored to launch alongside Intel's next-generation Skylake chips, is capable of driving up to two 4K external displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display at 60Hz running off a single cable.
Intel Presentation Template Overview
Last month, a leaked Intel slide deck revealed that Skylake processors will provide a 10%-20% CPU performance boost in single and multi-threaded applications, with lower power consumption, and 30% faster Intel HD integrated graphics performance on average compared to current-generation Broadwell processors. The improved energy efficiency will also result in up to 30% longer battery life.