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7th Generation Intel Core i5-7600K Desktop Processor: Overview

  • Wednesday, January 4, 2017, 9:03 pm
  • ACROFAN=Yong-Man Kwon
Recently, the issue of PC and the environment surrounding it seems to be the 'next generation'. In particular, 4K displays and VRs that exceed the FHD, which is the same as the current industry standards, are considered representative environmental changes and high quality next generation contents utilizing these technologies are now facing the era of making it easy for anyone to access and make it. Moreover, these changes have been a turning point that calls up the actual performance of users who have been somewhat stagnant until now.

The new core processor, which has been on a steady basis every year, has steadily improved its functionality and performance from generation to generation, and the results of several generations of change have now become the level that cannot be ignored. Also, as the next generation environment emerges, new features provided by the newest core processors become even more meaningful. Particularly, as well as significant changes in terms of processor and platform, the 6th generation core processor has made more meaning to the next generation environment by appearing with the next generation operating environment, Windows 10.

The 7th generation core processor appeared for desktop PC is a model that 'optimizes' the technologies of the existing 6th generation core processor to bring more functionality and performance. In addition, since the 7th generation core processor, the development model of the 'PAO' with three stages rather than the existing 'tik-tok' has been launched in earnest, and some technical features have been changed. Especially, 'K-series' processor where overclocking is allowed is differentiated from general models by operation speed setting even without overclocking.

▲ The 7th generation core processor, corresponding to ‘optimization’ in the new development strategy.

The 7th generation core processor, codenamed 'Kaby Lake,' has improved the architecture and process of the existing 6th generation core processor and will be available in the 100 series chipsets used in the 6th generation core processors or in the new 200 series chipset based platforms. Based on the 'tik-tok' model that has been continued for generations so far, this 7th generation core processor has to be in the order of introducing the process with the level of 10nm. However, based on the 'PAO' development strategy consisting of three stages of process miniaturization, architecture replacement and optimization, it bases on the advanced 14nm process.

There are several reasons why Intel continue to use 14nm process in this generation. First, in reality, Intel's 14nm process has been extremely successful, well stabilized, and still highly competitive. For practical reasons, there are difficulties in developing and applying new micro processes. It seems that technical, time, and cost difficulties in establishing and developing new processes have been a big part. The new development strategy reflects the realities of the process transfer.

However, the manufacturing process of the 6th generation core processor and the 7th generation core processor is technically different. Intel has introduced a 12 percent performance improvement over its previous 14nm process through the optimization of the overall process, which further improves the fin profile and transistor channel strain, and reduces the gap between design and production. The performance improvement of 12% leads to the improvement of the operation speed, so the operation speed of the 7th generation core processor series are 10% higher than that of the 6th generation overall.

▲ Speed-shift technology from Windows 10 'Redstone 1' dramatically improves sensory performance.

Along with enhanced operation speeds through improved processes, the i5-7600K has become more distinctive in its characteristic than previous generations. Apart from overclocking, it provides basic 3.8GHz and maximum 4.2GHz operation speed, which is differentiated from i5-7600 by performance, as i5-7600 has basic 3.5GHz and maximum 4.1GHz operation speed. Until previous generations, the core i5 processor had little difference in operation speed between the K-series and regular processors, and some core i7 K-series only had a difference in operation speed.

About an improvement in performance besides enhanced operation speed, there is a more sophisticated 'Speed Shift Technology'. Used for low-load but responsive workloads such as web browsing, this technology has the effect of improving both experience and power efficiency by allowing the user to finish up quickly by maximizing the processor's operation speed instantaneously as needed. This technology, which had been introduced since the 6th generation core processor, has been more agile and sophisticated in this generation than before.

"Overclocking," a feature of the K-series of Intel's core processors, does not show much technical difference from the sixth-generation core processor sharing the platform. Overclocking since the 6th generation core processor allows for flexible overclocking by eliminating the multiplier limit of the base clock with over 80 times multiplier settings. It also provides offset setting in the situation of high load AVX utilization to make the best use of its competency. In addition, FIVR for powering the processor is configured outside the processor, enabling overclocking performance enhancement at the mainboard level.

▲ The built-in GPU of the 7th generation core processor is the highest level in technology support such as 4K related codec.

Built-in GPUs in the 7th generation core processors are based on the ninth-generation architecture used in the existing 6th generation processors, and their media-related functions and performance are noticeable. The GPUs of the 7th generation core processors faithfully support the latest standards such as DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 2.1, and support 4K or more display output and HDCP 2.2 with only built-in graphic output. The performance of the built-in graphics core has also improved steadily, so the current i5-7600's built-in graphics core performance is five times that of the previous i5-2500.

In aspect of media support features, hardware decode, encode for 4K HEVC 10-bit standard content and VP9-compliant hardware decode support, which was not supported on the 6th generation core processor, have been added. This enables the 4K video contents to be processed at GPU level by hardware and to provide an environment where users can enjoy without any burden on performance. Moreover, it supports HDR and wide color range processing in image processing, so users can enjoy high quality image by combination of contents and display that support this technology.

The hardware decode and encode functions of the 4K HEVC and the hardware decode functions of the VP9 eliminated the performance burden of enjoying 4K content. This is because even the most basic PC configuration using only processor-embedded graphics core can utilize the hardware acceleration of the GPU without the burden of the processor in watching UHD contents in Blu-ray UHD contents, Netflix, and YouTube. It also reduces the performance burden through 4K media-related functions and performance improvement of ‘Quicksync’ encoder when producing 4K class contents.

▲ It can be used with existing 100 series or new 200 series chipset based mainboards.

The 7th generation core processor maintains the socket specification of the 6th generation core processor and can be updated to the latest BIOS in the existing 100 series chipset based mainboard as well as the newly emerging 200 series chipset. In addition, the existing 100 series chipsets are connected to the processor with DMI 3.0 specification, and the PCIe specification of the supported chipset became 3.0, so that the PCIe x4-based SSD can be well supported and the scalability aspect has been greatly improved.

The 200 series chipsets, presented with the 7th generation core processor, are said to have more internal I/O lanes than the 100 series chipsets and new features such as new versions of RST and Optane technology support. 'Optane' technology support is the application as caching of system drives among Intel's '3D Xpoint' based non-volatile storage application plans. It boosts performance by using Optane technology-based storage of PCIe x4 interface as a cache of the existing SATA SSD or HDD.

In addition, in the 7th generation core processor, the supported memory standard was changed from the existing DDR4-2133 to the DDR4-2400 standard, and the maximum memory bandwidth was improved from 34.1GB/s to 37.5GB/s. The performance of overall system and the built-in graphics core have come to be expected improvement in performance. Especially for a system using a built-in graphics core, the improvement of the supported memory specification is also a part of the performance improvement. Dual channel configuration is supported, and the maximum configurable memory capacity is about 64GB.