On the very highest end of the mobile computing market we have Kaby Lake. Kaby lake will find its way into lots of hybrids and laptops this year, especially at the premium end of the market. Whilst Kaby Lake is relatively similar to Sky Lake, it shows some slight increases in processing power and very notably, some bandwidth increases. Gen 2 USB 3.1 enables bandwidth of 10Gbps, rather than 5Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 support is included too. Which means your high end hybrids will have some serious peripheral power – external hard drives and external graphics are both very possible. That’s an exciting trend I’ve predicted would happen for awhile. When it eventually comes to cheaper tablets, it’ll mean mobile devices can hybrid in a way they never have been able to before, moving from mobile to full desktop power. In the meantime, those with bigger wallets can appreciate the docking modular computing of the future.
The incoming, late 2017 Cannon Lake will likely represent a bigger shift in processing power though.
And less well known, but very relevant for most consumers, Intel’s Apollo Lake was released late last year, for cheaper laptops, and low to mid market tablets. These processors in the N series are ideal for the sorts of tablets I stock, and unlike Cherry Trail chipsets, are significantly more powerful than the Intel Atom series. They have a burst speed of 2.2-2.5 GHz, maximum RAM of a tasty 8GB and satisfying maximum GPU speeds of 650-700 MHz. They also have built in USB 3 and SATA, which means we may see a lot more support for SSD in the Chinese market. They are also capable of 4k playback due to an upgrade to Intel Generation 9 graphics.
With Apple also announcing its own chipset for laptops, Windows also moving to ARM, Intel may have to up their game when it comes to power consumption, or simply accept its niche of performance.
Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 will power this year’s more powerful phones, and likely some low-mid range tablets. With Windows coming to the ARM game, I expect you’ll also see it in budget laptops and hybrids. The GPU performance is always high with Qualcomm, and we might see in the midrange of tablets, unlike CPU power, Qualcomm beating out Intel’s budget end 700 Mhz. They claim 25% increase on previous designs and they boast around 800 MHz. This could be a boon for budget gamers. We will see.
One of the most exciting developments in the Qualcomm chipsets, other than the obvious upgrades in meaningful speed is the LTE speed. A new modem means “fibre like speeds” of a theoretical maximum of 1GBbps. That’s blinding fast 4G for anyone that doesn’t speak tech. And because Windows is expanding to ARM, I expect we will see LTE as almost standard in tablets coming out late 2017, Intel or Qualcomm.
According to Qualcomm, compared to the Snapdragon 821, the Snapdragon 835 will be able to offer either 27% higher performance or 40% lower power consumption, depending on how the chip is configured. And either longer battery life or more power will be much appreciated in the chipset that will likely power everything from cheap laptops, to workhorse mobile phones. The new chipset also has an upgraded form of Quick charge leading to 20% faster charging times.
The 835 is a pretty exciting upgrade especially in a chipset with expanded OS applications, including AR and VR. I think it will suit cheap windows laptops and hybrids very well, as well as Android tablets. The clock speed of up to 2.45 GHz is only just touching on Apollo Lake though, Intel’s budget range, and we’ll have to see what Intel has coming out with Cannon Lake and likely more late 2017. Also, no Gen 2 USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt yet.
Each chipset has its advantages. Qualcomm in terms of LTE, GPU and battery efficiency, and Intel in terms of CPU, USB gen 2, Thunderbolt and SATA. In terms of Tap That, I expect to get up and running again soon properly and for good, probably just in time to catch a whole new wave of Intel and Qualcomm new tablets, laptops and hybrid models to serve up to you guys here in NZ 🙂