Microsoft Surface 5 could be powered by Intel’s Kaby Lake CPU

Next-generation tablets could get the powerful new chip

Microsoft Surface 5 could be powered by Intel’s Kaby Lake CPU
Credit: Image credit: Microsoft

With the Surface 4/Surface Book doing very well and grabbing more and more market share, Microsoft isn’t saying much about the next generation of its tablet/notebook products. However, a leak from China may have some clues.

All that’s known is that the next generation of Surface products was pushed back to early 2017. A leak to Indian publication says one reason for the delay is because Microsoft wanted to use the latest processor from Intel, code-named Kaby Lake. Kaby Lake is expected in the third quarter, which would make shipping by year’s end pretty tough. So, Microsoft simply pushed Surface 5 into next year rather than rushing it.

Kaby Lake represents a departure for Intel. For a decade, it was governed by a “tick/tock” model, where the “tock” part was a whole new microarchitecture, and the “tick” was a shrink of the manufacturing process. The shrink usually meant better power efficiency but not much for performance, since it was the same architecture.

+ More on Network World: Surface Books get major driver updates +

However, Intel ran into the laws of physics and found it harder to shrink the manufacturing process every other year and added a second “tock” to the process. Kaby Lake is basically Skylake, the new microarchitecture introduced last year currently on the market, at the same 14nm manufacturing process but with some efficiency tweaks, particularly around power.

Kaby Lake will still be 14nm, but it will have a more System-On-a-Chip (SOC) design, which is more power efficient, plus it will consume less power and support 4k displays and the Thunderbolt 3 interface. These changes will benefit tablet and ultralight portables such as Surface.

Mobipicker believes 4k resolution will be an extra option for people who want to pay for it, and incredibly it will sport the new Nvidia Pascal or AMD Polaris GPUs, both of which are amazingly powerful GPUs for desktops. If they can get Kaby Lake and Pascal into a tablet and not have it reduced to molten slag in 10 minutes, it will be a remarkable feat of engineering.

Of course, it will cost you: starting at $899 for the Core i5 variant and going to $1,599 for the top-end Core i7 Extreme variant.

The OS of choice is said to be Windows 10 Redstone 2. Redstone 1 is the Anniversary Update planned for this summer, which is also when the free period to download Windows 10 ends. Redstone 2 was pushed back to early 2017 to coincide with the new hardware launch. WinBeta speculates that Redstone 2 will contain features that were cut from Redstone because they couldn’t complete them in time for release. But what those features are is unknown.

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