According to a recent investor earnings meeting with Intel and various industry analysts and shareholders, the company is no longer focusing on launching the Broadwell-K processors for the desktop. Instead, they are re-focusing their attention on the next generation of Core products called Skylake, compatible with DDR4 memory and shipping with the LGA1151 socket. It doesn’t paint a fun picture for PC enthusiasts who were looking forward to a processor upgrade this year and many people, including myself, bought into the lie that Broadwell-K was coming. Well, guess there’s no use crying about the spilt milk now, is there?
The problem that I’ve been talking about here and there over the last year with the System Builders Guide was that Skylake, Intel’s next family of Core-based products, was popping up too soon after Broadwell-K was set to release, which would have been either late December 2014 or early January 2015. My reasoning was that Skylake’s adoption would be slowed due to more people ponying up for a solution that was already available and would have delivered similar performance, which is what Broadwell would have offered. Coupled with the cheaper DDR3, a lot of people would have settled for the older hardware in order to not be guinea pigs for Intel and its partners producing DDR4 memory.
Now the tide has turned not just for desktop users, but mobile as well. The Intel Core M family based on Broadwell hardware is shipping this holiday season. Broadwell mobile is manufactured on the 14-nanometer production process and has quite a few power-saving tricks up its sleeve which make it suitable for use in mobile computers.
Broadwell-K would have launched in the same time frame, but with only unlocked processors for enthusiast setups. It was assumed that people would buy up Z97 motherboards, equip them with the Pentium G3258 as an interim solution that still overclocks well and later enable people to update the motherboard’s BIOS to accommodate the shiny new Broadwell processors.
But, that’s not going to happen. Instead, there will be about an eight-month delay in which Intel gets to deplete old stock of Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors as well as allow memory vendors to sell up most of their DDR3 stock before moving to DDR4. At some point in 2H 2015, Intel will launch Skylake along with a slew of new motherboards from their partners.
In between those periods, there will be Broadwell processors hitting various markets. For consumers, Broadwell will still appear in notebooks and hybrid computers and there’s a chance they’ll be inside All-in-one desktops as well, scaling all the way up to whatever the quad-core hyper-threaded Core i7 variant will be.
In the second half of 2015 before the Skylake launch, entry-level Celeron and Pentium parts from the Braswell family will appear. Braswell is the Haswell architecture mixed with Broadwell’s 14nm process and these will almost certainly be sold as BGA packages soldered straight into motherboards compatible with DDR3 memory. They’ll be more effective low-power computers than their Intel Bay Trail brethren and aimed at low-cost computers, but they won’t be as flexible as AMD’s AM1 platform with their Jaguar APUs.
So sorry, folks! Looks like we all had the rug pulled out from under us this time around. Hey, AMD! You have an eight-month gap in which to do something for the desktop that Intel can’t respond to!