The Skylake Architecture
The Skylake Architecture
We'll address some key aspects and a technical overview of the technology and architecture first. Chances are good that you have already learned about this information over time. Right, let's step back a few generations and start at Sandy Bridge at 32nm. Sandy Bridge really was a completely new architecture, its successor Ivy Bridge did share a lot of common denominators. When we look at Sandy versus Ivy Bridge, the foremost complicating factor was moving the architecture towards a smaller production node; Ivy Bridge is a 22nm processor series. Haswell then, is a 22nm product yet based on a FinFET process that uses a non-planar transistor that sits around the gate on three sides. Built using a 22nm process, Haswell is the "tick" in Intel's "tick-tock" development cycle, so Ivy Bridge was just a process size shrink from Sandy Bridge's 32nm to 22nm.
Then a jump to 14nm, Broadwell is a Tick in the release schedule to be followed by a Tock, Skylake. For Skylake several things changed, an increasingly more powerful graphics engine and that fabrication shrink at the 14nm node, this allows for an even more power friendly processor.
Intel Core i7-6700K Processor Key Features
- Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 4.2 GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.
- Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: Allows each processor core to work on two tasks at the same time for up to 8 total independent tasks (threads) providing parallel processing capability for better multi-tasking with threaded applications.
- Intel Smart Cache: 8 MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.
- CPU Overclocking Enabled (with Intel Z170 chipset): Fully unlocked core multiplier, power, base clock and memory ratios enable ultimate flexibility for overclocking.
- Graphics Overclocking Enabled (with Intel Z170 chipset): Unlocked graphics multiplier allows for overclocking to boost the graphics clock speed.
- Integrated Memory Controller: Supports 2 channels of DDR4-2133 and DDR3L-1600 memory with 2 DIMMs per channel. Support for memory based on the Intel Extreme Memory Profile (Intel XMP) specification.
- PCI Express 3.0 Interface: Supports up to 8 GT/s for fast access to peripheral devices and networking with up to 16 lanes configurable as 1x16, 2x8, or 1x8 and 2x4 depending on the motherboard design.
- Chipset/Motherboard Compatibility: Compatible with all Intel 100 Series chipsets with the latest BIOS and drivers.
- Intel HD Graphics 530:Integrated 3D performance with support for Microsoft DirectX 12 and Ultra HD 4K resolution display for immersive mainstream gaming. For Microsoft DirectX* 12 testing, the performance-tuned Intel graphics driver is expected to be available for download on Intel Download Center by the 6th generation Intel Core processor family product introduction. The Intel HD Graphics 530 dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1150 MHz.
- Vibrant Media: Enhanced, built-in visual features deliver a seamless visual PC experience for rich Ultra HD 4K entertainment and HD gaming.
- Intel Quick Sync Video Technology: Media processing for incredibly fast conversion of video files for portable media players or online sharing including support for HEVC (H.265) encode/decode to support Ultra HD 4K
For the 5th generation processors there will of course be a distinction per processor segment (i3/i5/i7). What you get in terms of features and what you need to remember limitation wise:
- Desktop Core i7 processors have four cores / eight hyper-threads / Up to 8 MB L3 cache
- Desktop Core i5 processors have four cores / NO hyper-threading / Up to 6 MB L3 cache
- Desktop Core i3 processors have two cores (unannounced)
|Microarchitecture||CPU series||Tick or Tock||Fab node||Year Released|
|Presler/Cedar Mill||Pentium 4 / D||Tick||65 nm||2006|
|Conroe/Merom||Core 2 Duo/Quad||Tock||65 nm||2006|
|Penryn||Core 2 Duo/Quad||Tick||45 nm||2007|
|Nehalem||Core i||Tock||45 nm||2008|
|Westmere||Core i||Tick||32 nm||2010|
|Sandy Bridge||Core i 2xxx||Tock||32 nm||2011|
|Ivy Bridge||Core i 3xxx||Tick||22 nm||2012|
|Haswell||Core i 4xxx||Tock||22 nm||2013|
|Broadwell||Core i 5xxx||Tick||14 nm||2014 & 2015 for desktops|
|Skylake||Core i 6xxx||Tock||14 nm||2015|
Core i 7xxx
|Cannonlake||Core i 8xxx?||Tick||10 nm||2017|
A lot of processors will be based on Skylake, the desktop side are actually the Skylake-S series, Skylake-Y series would power the Core M based processors for ultra low TDP devices, Skylake-U processors will be mainstream mobility devices and Skylake-H series are the high-end, performance focused mobility chips that will include both regular HQ variants along with Xeon processors for consumers demanding extra workstation capabilities on developer notebooks. But we focus on desktop, let's have a closer look.
Core i5 6600K and i7 6700K
Both models are quad-core processors based on the aforementioned Skylake architecture and supersede the Core i7 4770 / 4790 processor range (in design). The Core i7 model has hyper-threading and your OS will see it as an 8-core product. The CPU has 1 MB L2 cache (256 kB per physical core). Then there is an 8 MB shared L3 cache. The integrated memory controller remains dual-channel, officially supporting up-to 2133 MHz, but we all know how high these puppies can clock. The TDP for this processor is 65 Watts. The Core i5 model is a fairly similar product, yet clocked a notch slower at a 3.5 GHz base clock and 3.9 Turbo allowance. This processor, as stated, does not have hyper-threading. Also it has slightly less L3 cache at its disposal, 6 MB.
Core i7 6700K - 4 cores and Hyper-Threading, 4.0 GHz frequency, 4.20 GHz maximum Turbo Boost frequency, 8 MB last-level cache, dual-channel DDR3/DDR4 memory controller with 1600 MHz or 2133 MHz support, Intel HD Graphics 5000-series integrated graphics core, LGA 1151 packaging
Core i5 6600K - 4 cores, 3.50 GHz frequency, 3.90 GHz maximum Turbo Boost frequency, 6 MB last-level cache, dual-channel DDR3/DDR4 memory controller with 1600 MHz or 2133 MHz support, Intel HD Graphics 5000-series integrated graphics core, LGA 1151 packaging
There will be more variants available though:
|Intel Skylake Desktop Processors Lineup|
|Model||Process||Cores||Core Clock||Boost Clock||Cache||Memory Support||TDP||Socket||Unlocked Design|
|Core i7-6700K||14nm||4/8||4.0 GHz||4.2 GHz||8 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||91W||LGA 1151||Yes|
|Core i5-6600K||14nm||4/4||3.5 GHz||3.9 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||91W||LGA 1151||Yes|
|Core i7-6700||14nm||4/8||3.4 GHz||4.0 GHz||8 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||65W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6600||14nm||4/4||3.3 GHz||3.9 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||65W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6500||14nm||4/4||3.2 GHz||3.6 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||65W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6400||14nm||4/4||2.7 GHz||3.3 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||65W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i7-6700T||14nm||4/8||2.8 GHz||3.6 GHz||8 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||35W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6600T||14nm||4/4||2.7 GHz||3.5 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||35W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6500T||14nm||4/4||2.5 GHz||3.1 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||35W||LGA 1151||No|
|Core i5-6400T||14nm||4/4||2.2 GHz||2.8 GHz||6 MB||DDR4 2133 MHz||35W||LGA 1151||No|
The Skylake cache memory consists of a 32 KB L1 Data cache, 32 KB Instruction cache (= 64 KB L1) and then we spot a 256 KB L2 cache per core (1 MB total) and then there's a L3 cache that is shared in-between the CPU cores which is 8 MB in total for the Core i7 processors and 6 MB for the Core i5 series. The L3 cache sits in the physical form of a ringbus. Thus the L3 cache can be used by the processor cores and also the graphics core. You can house the new Skylake processors on motherboards with the H170 and Z170 chipset, later on other business oriented chipsets will be introduced as well. So no, the H97 / Z97 chipset is not compatible! For end consumers like you and me the H series chipset is less performance targeted and comes with better support for HTPC monitor connectivity. The Z series chipset is targeted at performance and enthusiast end users allowing much more tweaking and providing performance features. It also brings USB 3.1, SATA Express and PCIe M.2 SSD connectivity to the platform.