Intel had their Q2 earnings today, and while we’ll get to that shortly, some news came out of the earnings call that was interesting. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated on their earnings call that Intel is now shipping their 7th Generation Core processor, code named Kaby Lake.

Kaby Lake was not even a product not that long ago, but with Intel coming up against the laws of physics with process shrinks, they made the announcement a year ago that they would be adding more architectures per process shrink. The delays in moving to 22 nm and then 14 nm meant that they were missing the anticipated product launches for their OEMs, which left the OEMs with quarters where they would have no new products to sell. In an attempt to smooth out the timelines to a more reasonable cadence, while at the same time coming to grips with the complexity of moving to smaller and smaller processes, Intel announced Kaby Lake as a successor to Skylake, which would build on Skylake and offer additional architectural improvements.

This was big news at the time mostly because Intel’s previous Tick Tock strategy was so successful. To abandon it was certainly an important step for the company, but with Kaby Lake seemingly on-time for a fall launch this year, just a year after Skylake launched, points to the investment being the correct one.

When Intel says they are shipping, they of course mean they are shipping to their device manufacturer partners, so we should start seeing Kaby Lake based computers this fall.

Another interesting point brought up during the call was on yields. Intel has found itself in a situation where it’s inventory levels are higher than they would like them to be, and the answer to this was yields. Intel’s yields improved in Q1, and to quote Stacy J. Smith, Intel’s CFO and EVP, “Frankly, they got a lot better in Q2 as well” which is likely another reason why Kaby Lake is being delivered on-time.

We should learn more about Kaby Lake at Intel’s IDF which is coming up in mid-August.

Source: Intel Investor Call

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  • spikebike - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Very unlikely. Using the same process means no more transistors for the same size/cost die. So it will be small tweaking of the existing chip so save a bit of power of eek out a bit higher clock. Basically the next generation chip will be very similar to what they are shipping today with slightly different characteristics. All the easy IPC optimizations have already been done.
  • edzieba - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    "Very unlikely. Using the same process means no more transistors for the same size/cost die."

    Not necessarily true. Look at the change from Nvidia's Kepler to Maxwell architectures: transistor density increased and power efficiency increased, within the same process node. There is plenty of improvements to be made in designing for a process, and in improvements in implementing a process, in addition to just the process scale.
  • ishould - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    To be fair, there is a lot more room for new/better architectures in GPUs than CPUs. The transistor density is probably more related to optimized designs with less congestion than anything else
  • Jimster480 - Sunday, July 24, 2016 - link

    Well if you look at how poor the gains were from Broadwell to Skylake... don't expect gains from Skylake to Kaby-Lake.
    I mean Broadwell was 14nm and Skylake is barely faster and in some cases actually slower.
    And Broadwell was just a shrunken and optimized Haswell.
  • YukaKun - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Don't forget processes can also be optimized. It might not be much up front, but it all adds.

    I think Intel and all other manufacturers are hitting diminishing returns, but can't find anything else to optimize upon. Or at least, they make it appear like that.

  • extide - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    Skylake 4+2 (Quadcore w/GT2 graphics, most common chip) was like ~100mm^2 -- so they have a lot of room to bump up the die size if they want.
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    It could be the least IPC improvement ever seen. 2% even.

    Zen is the chip to watch. Kaby Lake is just something that allows AMD to not die until it can release Zen.
  • warreo - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Methinks you did not bother reading thee article...
  • Michael Bay - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Zen is the chip to laugh at.
    When you`re not laughing at rebrandeons or electric design failures.
  • close - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    You must be new to the internet or computery things.

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