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Intel to delay Skylake processors for desktops to third quarter

Just a week ago Intel Corp. said that it would not postpone introduction of its code-named “Skylake” microprocessors in a bid to sell-off the remaining inventory of current-generation chips. However, a source with knowledge of Intel’s plans revealed on Friday that the world’s largest chipmaker will delay commercial launch of its future CPUs by about one quarter.

Intel has always said publicly that it would ship its “Skylake” processors in the second half of 2015. However, for a number of times last year the company demonstrated in its confidential documents and presentations for partners that it intends to release the first “Skylake” central processing units for desktops in the second quarter of 2015. Back in early November, 2014, Intel showcased a slide at its technology conference for partners indicating that the first “Skylake” chips in LGA1151 form-factor along with Z170 and H170 platforms will hit the market in the first half of the year (i.e., Q2 2015). This will not happen, despite of claims made last week.

A source with knowledge of Intel’s plans said that the chipmaker will delay commercial launch of the “Skylake” processors to the third quarter of 2015. Traditionally Intel released new microprocessors in the first half of the year (it did so with Westmere, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell and Haswell Refresh), but this time the company will not ship its new chips earlier than sometimes in Q3 2015. Moreover, makers of mainboards and high-performance PCs may not even get commercial “Skylake” CPUs to showcase their latest products at the Computex Taipei trade-show in early June.

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The reasons for the delay are unclear. Moreover, given the fact that Intel is ramping up production of chips using 14nm process technology, it is relatively easy for the company to start volume production of processors based on the code-named “Skylake” micro-architecture. All Intel has to do, at least in theory, is to change photomasks in the scanner.

“[Broadwell and Skylake] are on the same technology, the same piece of silicon, the same factory,” said Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, during a conference call with investors and financial analysts. “All we [need to] do is change the piece of glass in the scanner to get a different product. There is not a change or revamp of our factories that needs to occur for this.”

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While the delay of the “Skylake” central processing units will postpone introduction of certain new platform features, this may actually be good for makers of motherboards. The co-existence of Intel’s “Broadwell” and “Skylake” microprocessors on the market this year was expected to result in availability of five competing types of platforms for Intel’s desktop central processing units. For makers of motherboards this means increased costs and internal competition. If Intel helps its partners to sell through their existing chips and mainboards based on previous-generation chipsets, the slight delay could be a good thing for them.

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Intel’s “Skylake” platforms will offer all-new CPU micro-architecture (with AVX 3.2, 512-bit extensions and so on), native SATA Express support (which means they will support advanced SSDs with 2TB/s or even 4TB/s read speeds), Thunderbolt 3.0 (40Gb/s) and DDR4 memory option. Unfortunately, they will not offer overclockability since Intel has no intentions to launch Skylake processors with unlocked multiplier in Q3 2015. By contrast, Intel’s “Haswell-K” and “Broadwell Unlocked” will offer overclockability, but will not provide native SATA Express support and will continue to use DDR3 memory.

Back in November, 2014, it was reported that Intel had set the “ready to ship” schedule for the mainstream “Skylake” processors (Skylake-H, Skylake-U) for notebooks to the 37th – 47th weeks of 2015 (early-September – mid-November). If the information is correct, then the first laptops based on the mainstream “Skylake” processors will hit the market in late-September at the earliest. Mobile platforms featuring “Skylake” chips will sport wireless charging, WiGig and other technologies, which will boost demand for new tablets, 2-in-1s and notebooks.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: In the light of recent delays of Intel’s “Broadwell” CPUs by about a year, the postponement of the company’s “Skylake” processors by a quarter does not seem dramatic. Still, it is rather alarming to see how Intel adjusts its plans…

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