Why the Surface Pro 4 will sink without Intel’s new Skylake chip

Surface

As many are no doubt aware, 2015 is an exciting time in the world of chip manufacturing (that is not a paradox). Following years of research, the world’s first 14nm chips have gone into production, and are currently hitting products across the globe.

With smaller chip sizes comes increased efficiency of resource usage, meaning improved graphics, performance and battery life. In addition to this, smaller chips can often run cooler than their larger counterparts. As such, and especially for the mobile industry, this is something of a big deal.

This brings us to the Surface Pro 4, expected to debut soon. At the moment, while there have been a number of rumors flying about, there is no clear word yet on what the device will precisely contain. Representing the best of what Microsoft can offer in a portable device, the Surface Pro is expected to maintain exacting standards of performance.

To this point, following the previous line, a new Surface Pro without a ‘Skylake’ chip inside would come as something of a surprise, and a large disappointment.

Intel

“Wintel” is the name commonly given to the partnership between Microsoft and Intel, a true representation of the close relationship that the two companies have enjoyed over the years. As PCs have increased in power and shrunk in size, it is Microsoft and Intel that have worked to remain at the crest of the wave throughout.

And yet, this relationship could be construed as maybe not quite as close as it once was. When it got into the mobile game, Microsoft decided not to work with Intel for both its Windows Phone OS and for Windows RT, preferring instead to dabble with others. Part of the reason for this was simple, Intel hadn’t yet recognized the potential of the mobile market.

However, things are different now, and the two different firms have made strong amends. A key part of the improvement in this relationship comes from Intel, which now has an unmistakable focus on making its presence felt in the mobile space. To this end, ‘Skylake’ has been described as perhaps the most significant chip Intel has produced in the last decade.

Surface

With a quoted 60% increase in power efficiency and 50% better integrated graphics performance over Broadwell, it is hard to disagree. Skylake will also allow for a 35% improvement in battery life when viewing HD video, which ties in nicely with the other improvements that have been achieved in handling ever higher-resolution screens. And it is for this reason that the Surface Pro 4 would be the perfect device to showcase these improvements.

Based on the Skylake x86 architecture, the new chips will initially be available in 4 variants, “S”, “H”, “U” and “Y”, along with an overclockable “K” chip. H, U and Y will be manufactured using BGA packaging, while S will be LGA. S will feature a LGA 1151 socket, and all will feature support for DDR3 and DDR4 RAM. Y, U and one variant of S will feature two cores, while all others will be quad-core. If you would like to find out a little more, head here.

The Surface Pro line represents the shape of what Microsoft wants the future of computing to be, where power does not have to be sacrificed for portability. As the likes of Apple are content to see their products fall back in terms of power, most recently seen with the new MacBook Air, the door is now open for others to push forwards. Microsoft has already leaned on Intel recently, using the new ‘Cherry Trail’ M-class chip in the Surface 3, this would merely be taking things a step further.

As a business device, for a little gaming, for productivity on the go, there is little that can rival the Surface Pro 3, and yet it still does not do enough. With more advances planned for chip manufacturing improvements in the near future, this is a chance to strike out and forge something new and bold.

What would you do with your Skylake-powered Surface Pro 4? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor’s note: This is an editorial that reflects the opinion of the writer. If you agree or disagree, voice your opinion in a civilized manner in the comments below.

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