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Getting Started with the Intel Skylake CPU

It is now a couple of weeks since Intel launched or formally announced the Skylake CPU. Skylake is the code name for Intel’s 6th generation core processor line. It is the successor to the Broadwell micro-architecture.

This 14 nanometer chip promises reduced power consumption and greater CPU and GPU performance. The 6600K and 6700K CPUs were recently announced for immediate availability.

That was at the annual Gamescom trade fair for video games on August 5, 2015.

What Should I Know about the Skylake CPU to Get Started?

First and foremost you are going to need new hardware. The Skylake processor is not compatible with most of the motherboards in use today.

Thus you will need a motherboard with the new LGA 1151 CPU socket. Older LGA 1150 or other motherboard sockets will not work. On the side of the CPU mini board, you will see the slot that determines whether the Skylake CPU will fit into older motherboards.

You will then need the Intel 100 series chipset motherboards to be compatible with Skylake CPUs. Other than the DDR4 or DDR3L SDRAM, Skylake will not work work with your current RAM. It will be in your interest to know that Skylake supports dual channel DDR4 and DDR3L SDRAM. Notice the “L” with the DDR3.

The kind of RAM ou will be able to use is dependent on the manufacturer and type of motherboard you use. Some of the motherboards will support either of the two types of RAM. In some cases both RAM types can be used together.  

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The new motherboards for the K series, Skylake chips do not come with stock heat sinks for cooling. This is nothing to worry about.  Almost all existing cooling systems are compatible with the mounts on the motherboards. These include cooling fans and water cooled systems.

Overclocking Skylake?

The K series of Skylake chips (6600K and 6700K) come with good support for overclocking. No doubt the Skylake CPU comes with improved overclocking and has generated a lot of buzz around this feature. Unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this article so I will not go deeper into this subject.

Skylake comes with more I/O now with up to 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes available. What this means, is that you can connect more storage drives without the need to disconnect others. This also increases the number and type of peripherals that can be plugged onto the motherboard.

Last but not least, the Skylake processor motherboards also come with Thunderbolt 3.0  with transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. These kind of data transfer rates are great for 4K game play and video editing. This is definitely the fastest port on your PC and more so it allows plugging in of USB 3.1, power and Displayport all in one connector.

Other features of interest included are, up to 64GB RAM support per slot. Support for SATA Express and integrated Iris Graphics GPU with Direct3D 12 support. OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 2.0 and  modern hardware accelerated video encoding/decoding is also supported.

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