The Skylake Primer: What You Need to Know About Intel's 6th Generation Core Processors

By Dustin Sklavos, on July 28, 2015

Intel’s 6th Generation Core processors and platform, known to most of the enthusiast community as “Skylake,” are en route. These new processors bring about a new microarchitecture and are manufactured on Intel’s cutting edge 14nm process, but they also need new chipsets and new memory. We’re ready over here at Corsair, but are you?

The 6th Generation Core Memory Controller

These new processors support both DDR4 and DDR3L natively, but there are caveats. While you’re likely to see motherboards come out that support both standards, DDR3L development has been deprecated. Most vendors are focusing on DDR4, which lets the new processors stretch their legs.

Our existing 4-up DDR4 kits should run on the new platform without issue; they may actually even run a little better for the overclockers in the house, since these processors run on a dual-channel memory controller instead of the quad-channel one found in the Core i7-5960X and related chips. That said, the XMP 2.0 profiles for those kits were designed for Haswell-E and may necessitate having timings entered into BIOS manually.



Existing 4-up Vengeance LPX kits should have no trouble running on the new platform.

Users who want to bring their existing performance DDR3 to Skylake are going to have a much tougher time, though. Because the new memory controller only supports DDR3L at 1.35V and 1.5V (XMS) speeds, the 1.65V required to get DDR3 to hit high speeds rules them out. Some vendors are working on making their DDR3L-based Intel 100 Series boards compatible with existing 1.5V DDR3 kits, but expect these to be in the minority.

Finally, only the new K-suffix chips will support DDR4 speeds beyond 2133 MHz. In order to run memory at higher than 2133 MHz on DDR4 or 1600 MHz on DDR3L, you’ll need to have a K-suffix chip and a motherboard with a Z170 chipset.

What does all of this mean for you? Ultimately, if you want to jump to the new platform, it’s going to necessitate a new processor, new motherboard, and new memory.

LGA 1151: Keeping Cooler Compatibility

Intel’s new chips may necessitate a new socket, but they’ve done right by the enthusiast community by sticking with the same mounting system as their previous mainstream platforms. That means that any cooler that was compatible with LGA 1150, LGA 1155, or LGA 1156 will be compatible with the new LGA 1151.



The shiny new Hydro Series H110i GTX mounts to the new processors using exactly the same hardware it needed on the old ones.

Users with existing Hydro Series coolers have nothing to worry about; all of our coolers retain their compatibility with the new socket. So if you’re planning on upgrading, you can keep your cooler.

Haswell-Ready Power Supplies and Sleep States

Way back when the Intel Core i7-4770K and its kin first launched, there was some concern over power supply compatibility. Specifically, these processors added additional low power sleep states that could cause trouble with some power supplies. The new processors inherit these sleep states and the complications therein.



Our new RMi series power supplies are just the ticket for delivering clean, stable power to the new chips while supporting all of their features.

The overwhelming majority of our power supplies support these sleep states without issue. However, users with our entry-level CX (600W and below) and VS series power supplies will need to disable them in BIOS.

Conclusion

Intel’s new platform brings some big changes to the market. A faster architecture is always appreciated, but with the 6th Generation Core processors and 100 Series chipsets, they’re bringing a new memory standard into the mainstream in DDR4. We’ve already been playing with the new platform internally and we’re very optimistic about it: it’s fast, stable, and powerful, and the new memory controller brings healthy overclocking headroom. Performance users will be pleased, and we’ll be sharing more information soon, so stay tuned.


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