Intel’s Matt Birch on the company’s latest Skylake chips and developments in tech

2015 has been a hugely exciting year for Intel so far, having launched its 750 series consumer SSDs as well as the Core i7-6700K and i5-6600K desktop processors, aka Skylake. PCR speaks to Intel’s UK channel sales manager Matt Birch about the new tech and what’s around the corner – including powerful 3D XPoint memory…

Intel’s Skylake processors are finally here – and UK system builders are already selling their own systems powered by the desktop CPUs.

While there have been some reports of initial stock shortages, more processors in the product family are coming later in the year.

“We just launched the Intel Core i7-6700K and Intel Core i5-6600K, our unlocked mainstream processors for desktop,” says Intel’s UK channel sales manager Matt Birch. “Coupled with the rest of the family line to come later in the year and the new technological advances on a platform, we believe we have a strong opportunity to reinvigorate the PC market through new experiences.

“We believe we have the best technology and one of the most comprehensive partner program for our system integrators.”

Of course, these new 6th gen processors support DirectX 12 and Windows 10, as do Intel’s 4th and 5th Core processors, as well as Pentium and Celeron processors based on these architectures. The Intel Atom x5 and x7 processors will also support DX12, giving the new API decent support as it grows marketshare. Intel says games written to support DX12 running on DX12 hardware “will run fast and efficiently in terms of low CPU utilisation”. 

Intel also launched other new hardware earlier this year with the consumer NVMe SSD 750 series, giving retailers and system integrators the chance to offer customers faster SSD performance. “We believe the SSD 750 series provides the ultimate performance we see gamers and enthusiasts want for the best experiences, in terms of faster game load times or content creation,” Birch explains. 

And there’s plenty more where that came from. In July, Intel and Micron announced they are working on 3D XPoint memory technology, saying in a statement they are “creating the first new memory category in more than 25 years”.

3D XPoint promises to bring non-volatile memory speeds up to 1,000 times faster than NAND, making new innovations possible in machine learning, real-time tracking of diseases and 8K gaming. Is this the future of gaming – what about 16K, as mentioned by AMD?

“It is one future, as there are a lot of new experiences the technology can enable,” says Birch. “We believe that technologies like 3D XPoint are critical to these new experiences though and we will continue to innovate.

“In terms of 16K, we have to look at a few drivers of new technologies. The adoption will depend on the ecosystem readiness, including hardware and content, and market adaption rate. 

“First, there needs to be devices in the market to deliver beyond 8K, from monitors and TVs to the cables and graphics. Secondly, game developers and film and movie industries will need to deliver content to create demand. Until these two items are cost efficient and readily available, 8K and beyond will not be the norm.”

Other PC gaming hardware on the horizon includes Steam Machines, which are due to launch in November. But Intel remained coy about the devices. “We look forward to successful launch on the machines but can’t comment on the sales forecast,” comments Birch.

Intel is also big on the eSports front, running its own Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) events each year, and sponsoring Twitch streamers and YouTubers.

“IEM is celebrating its 10th season, which we are hugely proud of,” Birch says. “It has been a flagship tournament, showcasing the best in gaming. eSports is incredibly important as it heralds an industry that drives tech advancements and innovation, a fundamental part of Intel’s core value.”

So what’s next for PC gaming as a whole? “The PC gaming industry continues to evolve, especially with all of these new experiences like live streaming, 3D, VR, etc all gaining momentum in the market. You’ll start to see new technologies and products that will support this ever-changing sector,” concludes Birch.

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Gaming is running throughout September – click here for more articles

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