Intel Skylake Roadmap leak – plattform overview and ThinkPad speculation

3 days ago, the Chinese techsite Benchlife leaked a table, which contains the names and the timeslots for the release of all Skylake CPUs. Skylake is, if you don´t know, the codename for the next Intel microarchitecture, which is the successor to the Haswell microarchitecture and its Broadwell shrink. Skylake is the biggest release for Intel since Sandy Bridge maybe, or even since the first Core 2 Duo CPUs. It was set to be released in the second half of 2015. Now that we have the roadmap, we can take a closer look on the Skylake plattform release timetable:

intel-skylake-schedule

As you can see there, Skylake will be released in U, Y, H and S flavors. And also, for the first time ever, Intel will release mobile Xeon CPUs. Relevant for ThinkPads are U, Y, H and Xeon, S is meant for desktops only. Lets take a closer look on the different mobile flavors (note: All notes about Skylake ThinkPads are pure speculation. We have no leaks nor any evidence how the will look like or their specs yet whatsoever):

Skylake Y

The successor to Broadwell Y, which is also called Core M by marketing. As Y CPUs, these are meant for high-performance tablets, convertibles and detachables and also ultrathin Ultrabooks. Broadwell Y had a TDP of 4.5 – 6 W, and Skylake Y will presumably be even more efficient and energy saving.

Seeing how Broadwell Y aka Core M is used in the ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen, I can see that Skylake Y might be just the right choice for an yet-to-be successor to the current Helix. Personally, I would also love to see these CPUs used in a hypothetical fanless 12″ version of the X1 Carbon, which could take the new Macbook head-on. Pretty sure that will remain a dream however^^.

As can be seen in the table, Skylake Y has a staggered launch, with the slower models being released in September 2015, and the faster models, and presumably the vPro models, being released in January 2016.

Skylake U

Logically, the successor of Broadwell U. Used in all sorts of Notebooks and Ultrabooks, and by now, the primary processor class used in ThinkPads. With the death of the M CPUs after Haswell M, it took over the part as the main dual-core mobile CPU class. With a TDP of 15 W, they would have been called “Ultra Low Voltage” in the old days, but in todays day and age, they are more of the standard now.

The largest number of the current ThinkPad lineup is based on U CPUs. The X1 Carbon, T450(s), L450, E450, E550, T550, W550s and the X250, and also, all ThinkPad Yoga models. The only exceptions are W541, T440p, T540p and L540, which are all based on the 22nm Haswell M & MQ CPUs (and the W541 also on MX extreme CPUs). And the Helix 2 of course, which is based on Core M. Its not hard to imagine that Skylake U will take on the dominant position in the ThinkPad lineup.

Interestingly, a complete omission from the list of CPUs are the 28 W CPUs, like the current Core i7-5507U, respectively their successors. Maybe it does mean that Intel will cancel this sub-class of U CPUs, who knows. It is rumored that the 15 W Skylake U CPUs will be also available with GT3e iGPUs.

As all Skylake CPUs, Skylake U will have a staggered launch, with the non-vPro and slightly slower models Core i3-6100U, Core i5-6200U and Core i7-6500U first, in September 2015 (fitting to IFA 2015), and the vPro models Core i5-6300U and Core i7-6600U in January 2016, maybe right in time for CES 2016.

Skylake U (and also Y) will be based on DDR3 memory, sadly.

Skylake HQ and Mobile Xeon

Successor not only to the (yet to be released) Broadwell H, but also Haswell H and Haswell MQ, which is a variant which will be no longer available. Different from the MQ CPUs, like all H CPUs, these CPUs are soldered on to the motherboard. Being Quad-Core CPUs, with TDPs between 35 W and 45 W, they are perfectly suited for gaming machines and mobile powerhouses.

In regards to ThinkPads, I think the most likely use of these CPUs are the successors to T440p and T540p. They will deliver uncompromising CPU performance, which is something that many ThinkPad fans are waiting for.

Staggered launch again: The first CPUs will come in September 2015, the more powerfull CPUs in October-November.

Something I don´t know about are the listed H and HK CPUs Core i3-6100H and Core i7-820HK. Is the Core i3 dual-core? The lack of the Q certainly suggests that. HK will probably mean this CPU has an unlocked multiplier…

Most interesting for the W Series are the two mobile Xeon CPUs listed, the Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5 and the Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5. We don´t know much about them, other than the fact that they will be Quad-Core of course, but its not hard to imagine a W560 with one of these. They are part of the later, presumably vPro launch, of the HQ CPUs.

All HQ CPUs will use DDR4 memory.

Wrapping up

As mentioned before, Skylake is the most important release for Intel since a while, as it will not only once again take efficiency and performance to a new level, but also will include certain new features, like wireless charging, DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 type C, the death of VGA etc.. There are a lot of possibilities how things will play out, but it is certainly going to be interesting for ThinkPads and the industry as a whole.

What do you think about Skylake? What are your wishes for the next CPU lineup? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

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