back to article Intel's 6th gen processors rock – but won't revive PC markets

Intel launched its 6th Generation “Skylake” Core processors at IFA in Berlin last week, and is desperate for you to upgrade your PC. But has the Intel and Microsoft alliance done enough to drive upgrades and new sales? First, a quick recap on what Intel launched. The company announced 48 6th gen Core processors. The line-up is …

  1. steamnut

    Too many processors will confuse the market

    Although many of these processors are not actually manufactured specifically but are selected post-manufacture, how is the average Joe going to know which is which?

    With 48 new processors and five families (if you include Pentium and Xeon) where do you start? I'm sure it will all come down to price to the OEM's but how will the average PCWorld customer or CIO actually know whether he is getting the best bang for buck or the end-of-line special deal.

    Intel needs to focus more on the markets it is losing such as low lower (ARM) and less on the smorgasbord approach. Offering just the fastest processor and the lowest power processor in each i3,i5,i7 sector is all we need.

    In a years time we are going to be flooded with remaindered PC's of all sorts and that does nothing for sales or profits.

    As for Windows10, does anyone actually care?

    Madness, and confusing madness at that!

    1. Chemist

      Re: Too many processors will confuse the market

      "Offering just the fastest processor and the lowest power processor in each i3,i5,i7 sector is all we need."

      But as you point out these are just selected bins so what would they do with the rest ?

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Too many processors will confuse the market

      I thought the whole idea of the names was to confuse the market and get buyers to make decisions based on i3/i5/i7 and maybe a performance sticker.

      In most retail settings, there will be multiple processor generations and getting what you want without referring to Intel ARK is challenging.

    3. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Too many processors will confuse the market

      Indeed. What is the difference between an Atom C2xxxx chip, a Pentium, a Core i3, and a Xeon E3?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Too many processors will confuse the market

        >Although many of these processors are not actually manufactured specifically but are selected post-manufacture, how is the average Joe going to know which is which?

        Good question, but hasn't it alwaysbeen that way? Generally, gamers will know which chip they want - they enjoy researching stuff like that! Similarly, the CAD crowd will have an idea of what they are looking for, or have a relationship with a shop or vendor who will build and guarantee (and have certified) a complete system.

        The 'Average Joe', is just going to look less as a the CPU names, and maybe more at a whole laptop or PC and ask "Will it run WordyPaintWeb quickly enough", or more likely (given most CPUs have been quick enough for most tasks for some time) "How long will it last on one charge?", "How heavy is it?" and "Does the screen flip through 180 deg so I can watch movies comfortably in bed?"

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: Too many processors will confuse the market

          Intel have that solved, 3/4 of then will be so expensive the average punter simply won't consider them!

  2. Little Mouse

    It's true that PCs are often not used to their full potential, but it's not a new phenomenom. I'm reminded of an old Harry Hill quip (from the last millenium, no less):

    "I like to use mine with the screen turned up to full brightness. As a light."

    Though I guess these days you could include "Heater" as well.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Happy

      Heater

      I just upgraded my PC with a Skylake i7-6700K. One of the fringe benefits is the cooling is now *way* simpler. I've disconnected all but one of the case fans, and both that and the CPU cooler fan are running at 600rpm, making the whole thing damn near silent.

      Also, fast. Very, very fast. 4GHz FTW! :-)

      GJC

    2. Known Hero

      well I guess Harry Hill beat me to it.

      I use my phone on the nightstand at night to light me from the lightswitch to the bed.

      1. Gerhard Mack

        @known Hero

        I'll do you one better. My phone on the night stand actually controls the lights and dims them on automatically when I am supposed to get up in the morning.

        1. Known Hero

          Re: @known Hero

          posh git ;) :P

          I suppose mine will do that as well on a one time basis, Provided I aim well.

  3. M. B.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a Surface 4 (not Pro 4) with the Core-Y processor. The 3 with the Atom is almost enough for my day-to-day stuff but it really chugs when doing complex Visio diagrams with a couple other apps open, while the Pro 3 i5 trucks along just fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > complex Visio diagrams

      LOL. Carry on.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Well, I heard Visio has now full BPMN processing modeling with simulation included, so there may be a need for more CPU.

        Meanwhile

        # cat /proc/cpuinfo

        "processor : 1, vendor_id : AuthenticAMD, cpu family : 15, model : 107, model name : AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6000+, stepping : 2, cpu MHz : 1000.000, cache size : 512 KB"

        Am I stuckist?

  4. dogged

    "Weak Windows 10 apps"

    I heard Windows 10 stole Tim Anderson's bike.

    1. Haku

      Re: "Weak Windows 10 apps"

      And I heard it left a knife in the fork tray of his cutlery drawer.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be happy to upgrade

    For nothing else but the capability to run 3 screens instead of just 2 because Intel had this artificially limited. Why can't they offer 4 screen capability with the newest CPUs?

    Even then, my employer won't replace my 4 year old laptop until it's broken, and I have colleagues with 5-6 year old PCs with the same situation. And the new laptop would be a downgrade because every damn manufacturer drank Intel's Kool-Aid and thinks that a business machine must be an ultrabook, meaning a throttled down CPU, shoddy SSD, no ability to add a hard drive for bulk storage and no possibility to upgrade memory other than ordering it upgraded from factory.

    While the extra screen would come in handy, I'm not desperate to upgrade.

    Anonymous because breaking a laptop and getting a vacation while the new one is being delivered is way too easy...

    1. jglathe

      Re: I'd be happy to upgrade

      There are workstation laptop options for sale, though. If you get an ultrabook, then yes, you'd better throttle it for the noise of the fan, and you're limited to the two screens. However, one 1TB SSD is not bad and an i7-5600U at 90% clock is noticeably faster and way more silent than my T420s (i7-2640M).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd be happy to upgrade

        Ah, workstations. No such luxury for this lowly peon.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stay still - but go faster

    What I want is more cpu power to run my custom programs faster. Could I expect more than 60% compared to my Core i7 870?

    It has to be W7 though - W10 still does not appeal to me.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gamers always benefit from refreshed hardware?

    "Gamers always benefit from refreshed hardware."

    Bull.

    If he's meaning GPU, then sure. Possibly also HDD → SSD, for anyone that hasn't done so yet.

    He's trying to say this for CPU's though. CPU refreshes do not always benefit gamers. Quite a lot of copy/benchmarks have been written showing that any of the faster cpu's from the last several generations is good enough for modern (discrete GPU) gaming.

    1. Metrognome

      Re: Gamers always benefit from refreshed hardware?

      Fully agree. Besides, naming anything LGA 1151 as gaming or enthusiast is a travesty.

      LGA 2011 - X99 still reign supreme. Octacore @3.5 GHz with 20MB cache? Thank you very much :)

    2. Known Hero

      Re: Gamers always benefit from refreshed hardware?

      CPU refreshes do not always benefit gamers.

      You obviously don't play Arma

  8. Financegozu

    It all comes down to price

    Shaving off 1 dollar or two from a PC seems to be about the only game that PC manufacturers are able to play. When I go into a electronics supermarket, there are dozens and dozens of laptops that basically look the same and do the same. It's all about the credo of "different price points".

    And good luck asking the store guy or lady what the differences are. The models change so fast that they have no chance of knowing. Intels "good better best" is watered down to indiscernibility once these CPUs are built into the final product.

  9. Andy Tunnah

    Bang on

    Analysis tagline says it all.

    Windows 10 was just...I hate to use hyperbole, but it was devastating. It was the first windows that had piqued my interest since XP (I like 7 but it was more a "thank feck for that" rather than a "this might actually be good!", having read how they totally learned from the windows 8 mistakes, and it would be a much better user experience, closer to windows 7 than mobile.

    But then learning it was closer to mobile in the way that it just wants aaaaall your info (I know you can block it..but really, my computer OS shouldn't make me as paranoid as a mobile OS), and it was still rather..windows 8'ey, means I'm not going to upgrade until DX12 games are so prevalent that I've forced to

  10. User McUser
    Unhappy

    Thinner devices with longer battery life

    Who keeps demanding thinner and thinner computers? Is it just some bizarre reverse penis-envy thing among manufacturers? Laptop anorexia?

    How about instead, they build a regular thickness laptop with 4x the battery capacity of the thin ones?

    1. Nudge Away

      Re: Thinner devices with longer battery life

      How about lighter < 1Kg easily achievable.

      13" to 14" Matt Display, Full HD and < 1Kg with 4+ hour battery life at < £400 == a purchase for me.

      Not a lot to ask for really but the manufacturers simply don't get it (low res glossy tat is mostly all they can be bothered to produce).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thinner devices with longer battery life

        Manufacturers want ROI they don't need to care about anything else

        Unhappy PC Customer = Low/Middling Costs = High Margins

        Happy Apple customer = High Cost + High Margins ( cough , Until you see the queues waiting to get stuff repaired that no-one ever seems to mention, cough)

        Either way the manufacturer wins....

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Thinner devices with longer battery life

        How about lighter???The thing is making them thinner makes them heavier - or much more fragile. That extra 1/2 inch means another metre of dropping resistance and makes fuck all difference once its in that designer backpack,

        Oh and means less RSI when typing on the kitchen table too...

    2. Little Mouse

      Re: Thinner devices with longer battery life

      You'd think people would prefer them bigger. Like grapefruits. Or watermelons.

    3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Thinner devices with longer battery life

      Exactly!

      I don't want some "Thin & Light" that got that way by depriving me of all the useful ports I need to Get Shit Done, I want a thick n' chunky machine that has it all where it counts. (Can I say that I like my women this way as well? *Cough*)

      Anyway, I went looking for a 6th gen I5 with 8Gb RAM or more, a 120Gb SSD or larger, with all the ports I need (multiple USB, RJ45 Gigabit LAN, SD reader, DVD DL writer, etc) and the only way I could GET it that way was to go for the "Workstation" class machines starting at ~2K dollars. And that *still* didn't guarantee me the ports, merely the ability to pay for a chassis that supported adding them BACK IN at additional cost.

      What the hell? I'm willing to carry a heavier laptop for a larger battery & all the ports, but if I have to buy a bag load of dongles to add back the functions it lost in the "thin & light diet" then that's a machine I won't be buying.

      So I picked up an Off Lease Dell Latitude E64xx with 4Gigs RAM & 60Gig HDD for less than the cost of *shipping* on a brand new machine, and even after paying to improve the RAM to max & swap to a 120Gig SSD, I'll have paid less than the base, crappy, "new & improved!" model that doesn't have even HALF the ports of the "old n' crappy" model.

      Do you hear that Intel & Manufacturers? You just lost a sale because you can't be arsed to build a machine with a decent battery, the ports I need to Get Shit Done, at a price that doesn't make me wonder if you've packed your crack pipe with extra-potent toxic waste.

      Sure it's a 2010 era used laptop for $300 (after all the upgrades), but if that doesn't require me to buy a pack full of dongles to replace the ports your "new n' shiny!" machine lacks, then the new n shiny will gather dust until you Get A Fekkin Clue.

      I've got too much work to do to waste all my time hunting down dongles to add this or that, or setting up a Docking Station at every desk I might visit, just so I can plug in the DVD burner, the external NAS, a real keyboard, a Gigabit LAN cable, blah blah blah...

      Oh look! My "new" laptop has all the ports! 4x USB, RJ45, SD card reader, DVD burner, and if I need more the seller threw in a docking station for free, which added another EIGHT USB ports, two RJ45, video ports out the wazoo, and the ability to charge a second battery...

      It's like someone at Dell Knew What The Hell They Were Doing!

      *Pretends to faint in shock*

      Get a clue. I want a 6th gen super duper laptop, but damned if I want to pay premium prices for a machine that doesn't bother to include the stuff I need, and tries to charge me even MORE to put those functions back in.

      *Rude thumbs in ears, spittle blowing, disgusting raspberry gesture*

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm particulary excited by the appearance of the ROG G752 gaming penis extension!

    Does it sound like a hovercraft on amphetimes too? it has to make more noise than a blast furnace to be truly acceptable to a real brogrammer..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gimp

      Intel fans and the G-spot?

      This gives a new meaning to "Intel Inside".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah but, no Skylake desktop CPU with Iris pro, which is a shame as they really benefit from using that 128mb eDRAM as a level 4 cache. I'd like to see some Skylake versions of the i5-5675C and Core i7-5775C

  13. P.B. Lecavalier
    WTF?

    New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

    From the salesrep, on older machines: "They are slow to wake, their batteries don’t last long, and they can’t take advantage of all the new experiences available today,” Please...

    My main machine: first or second i3 generation on an HP laptop bought in 2011. Time to boot Linux (Gentoo) on SSD? Within 12 seconds. Time to wake from sleep? 1 or 2 seconds, not long enough to notice.

    I'm sorry, but why would I ever pay to improve upon that? Maybe this: Time to boot Windows 7 on the mechanical drive: more than 90 seconds (on the same drive, booting Linux is less than half this). And don't say "it's because it's an old install", I use it very rarely. Lusers do not see the difference between adequate hardware and failed software, and will ditch that serviceable hardware just because of the M$ junk.

    And what about gamers? With the video card(s) doing most of the work there, just upgrade that component. Or is it that you use a laptop, and you are a gamer? Not a smart move.

    You wanna sell me a product worth my time, money and interest, Intel? Come back with a modern instruction set architecture.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

      " With the video card(s) doing most of the work there, just upgrade that component."

      Unfortunately PCIe 2.0 can be a limiting factor for upgrading otherwise perfectly capable Core i7 870 or 920 systems. The latest GPU boards need PCIe 3.0 if they are to perform at their best.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

        Even the beefiest GPU can't saturate a PCIe 2.0 connection and all PCIe 3.0 are 2.0 compatible.

        1. Avatar of They
          Happy

          Re: New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

          Have an upvote, you beat me to it.

    2. Canecutter
      Devil

      Re: New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

      "You wanna sell me a product worth my time, money and interest, Intel? Come back with a modern instruction set architecture."

      Sorry, but they killed Alpha AXP more than a decade ago.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: New machine for a new CPU? What a waste of $!

      "Time to boot Windows 7 on the mechanical drive: more than 90 seconds (on the same drive, booting Linux is less than half this)."

      The upgrade you need is a solid state drive, that will make much more of a difference than a new CPU.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel 6th gen nothing special

    Intel's 6th gen is a minor performance improvement but nothing anyone would pay for unless they need a need PC for some reason. Win10 is a loser and most people simply don't need a new PC so sales will be sluggish. In addition with more portable electronic toys fewer people are actually buying laptops or desktops because the market has plateaued and isn't going to ever see the huge growth every time another defective version of Windoze is released or a new CPU series is available. AMD's new Zen based CPUs and APUs will increase PC sales for a year or two but not by monumental numbers.

  15. davebarnes

    For most people.

    WIndows "whatever" is good enough.

    Their current PC is good enough.

    Even for me, the nerd, most stuff is good enough.

    In the late-90s and early 00s, I bought a new computer every time Intel doubled the CPU speed. Every 18-20 months.

    In the 2005, I switched to Macs and upgraded every 2.3 years (sold them before AppleCare expiry).

    Now, my new iMac just replaced a 5-year old iMac (which was good enough, but I wanted a new machine and can write it off for business.)

    Good enough does not augur well for the industry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "In the late-90s and early 00s, I bought a new computer every time Intel doubled the CPU speed. Every 18-20 months."

      In the noughties I was spending about £8k a year keeping everyone's IT up to speed - and there always seemed to be a rebuild on the bench.

      For about the last five years they have not needed to be replaced - since the refurb with W7 and Core i7 920/870. Even upgrades have been limited to fitting end-of-line Nvidia GPUs that don't need PCIe 3.0. The only alumnus who might complain is not in a financial position to fund for himself the gaming PC his expensive tastes would like.

  16. Curious

    Intel Wifi card reliability on 'Tier 1 laptops'

    Any chance that Intel could work with dell/ hp / lenovo on the Skylake prototypes to make their wifi cards more reliable?

    There's little value in a faster processor if the wireless card keeps becoming an intermittent worker on modern latitude and elitebooks; whatever combination of bios / firmware / wifi standards or laptop heat is causing issues where older batches of laptops are rock solid reliable.

    49xx, 5100, 5300 in particular developing problems over a couple of years.

  17. Metrognome

    Can we once and for all put to bed the notion that anything LGA 1151 can be associated with serious gaming of any kind?

    Unless and until we have a replacement for the LGA 2011v3 beasts, nothing can persuade me to upgrade.

    All the 1151's are like also-rans in a losing race.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unlike extreme gamers, mainstream gamers still see value in a decent i5 and a middle-of-the-road GPU that still supports PCIe 3.0, which BTW still runs laps around any console on the market today. Also makes a nice home theater unit that can handle even H.265 with ease. Plus, since i5's have hardware AES support, we get a security bonus as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      1. Metrognome

        Re: Metrognome

        OK, where do I start? Cores (4 to 8), PCI lanes (16 to 40) or Cache (8 to 20)?

        Just on the PCI 3.0 Lanes, if you want to do SLi/Crossfire or simply slap on a PCI SSD, you're out of luck.

        Same with future expansion options.

        1151 are definitive false economies.

        The 2011v3 replaced one of the early i7's from late 2008 so having a 5-6 year stint on each CPU, while in meantime allowing for whatever new gizmo comes along from SSD's to the (then-new) USB3 is good economics. The 2001v3 has another 5-6 years (if not more) of good gaming life ahead of it barring some unforeseen revolution that would make us all upgrade.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Metrognome

          Ahhh. You're one of those gamers.

          Good luck with that. ;)

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Metrognome

          SLI/Crossfire is by definition NOT mainstream.

  18. jonathan keith

    Yes, gaming.

    ... and I'm still doing very nicely on my overclocked D0 stepping Core i7 920 from five years ago, thank you very much. The GPU's been upgraded a couple of times and I've swapped out the rust for SSDs, but I have absolutely no need whatsoever for a new CPU, and expect not to until this one dies.

  19. keithpeter
    Windows

    Old laptops

    “There are over 500 million computers in use today that are four to five years old or older. They are slow to wake, their batteries don’t last long, and they can’t take advantage of all the new experiences available today,”

    ...and had tolerable keyboards.

    Slow to wake: about 3 seconds on a core duo X200 Thinkpad

    Batteries don't last long: true around 3 hours. But then it is the original battery and is down to 50% of capacity on a full charge. But 3h gets me to work easily and allows me to triage the email in the canteen before I plug in to the PSU under my desk.

    New experiences: Noscript, Privacy Badger and careful choice of defaults ensure that I don't have anything to do with such malarkey thank you very much.

    Seriously: laptop with a decent keyboard, clear screen, good battery, less than 1.5 Kg, don't care how thick, designed to last 5 to 10 years. Take my money.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Old laptops

      Just to be really annoying here - just got the new touchscreen for the Pi. With a usb charger last about 5hrs as a tablet! Got a 1TB wifi drive (probably as secure as a w10 install!!!!!!) in pocket and a wireless gaming keyboard in the other for typing*. Get to the office and a decent monitor and keyboard/mouse and its actually quite usable (well its mounted in the box the touchscreen came in so not too weatherproof. *the keyboard flips out on the box lid its cool for now.,,,).

      I've got over a terraflop of CPU/GPU at home now but I dont really need that 99.99% of the time - thought I may if can learn this bloody Flash supernova simulation software proper like - but even MS office doesnt need that kind of power.

    2. ilmari

      Re: Old laptops

      Wake from sleep is measured in fractions if a second these days. You want to just open the lid or whatever, see if there are any messages or emails you need to read, and close it again. This entire process in preferably less than a second.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not about the processors

    The majority of home and business laptops nowadays have terrible resolutions. People are *still* being forced to use dreadful 1366x768 (or thereabouts) screens. If Intel forced manufacturers to have a 1920x1080 screen to be able to use the Ultrabook moniker, I wouldn't complain about the choices!

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: It's not about the processors

      Yes, there's also a weird marketing push into directions nobody wants. For example the "Ultrabook" which tries to be as thin as possible, which is usually reached by having a hard to replace battery.

      The big problem the manufacturers don't realize is that the future of the PC is not with Windows any more. Microsoft essentially wants to chase the Android market, by making Windows just like a mobile operating system. The people who still care about privacy are switching towards Linux or some BSD.

      Microsoft will essentially pull out the rug from under their main market. They have already tried with Windows 8 and they have apparently not changed their mind with Windows 10.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: It's not about the processors

      Don't forget the matte screen. None of this glossy crap please.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: It's not about the processors

        Remember when "glossy" was the new feature to have and parade on tickbox lists? I never found out why.

    3. John Sanders
      Holmes

      Re: It's not about the processors

      Many people I know prefer to use laptops with 768p because the fonts look reasonably sized.

      Once people grow beyond 40 they begin to develop eyesight problems and require big fonts and big icons.

      This is why this farce about screen resolution makes me laugh.

      (And yes I know you can change the size of the fonts, that is not the problem)

      1. illiad

        Re: It's not about the processors (768p)

        hey try helping them to find the settings!! :)

        in win7 right click on desktop, click 'resolution' , change to taste... :)

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: It's not about the processors

        "Many people I know prefer to use laptops with 768p because the fonts look reasonably sized."

        And for some reason raising the display zoom (telling the system to increase the size of everything: icons, fonts, etc.) doesn't help them?

  21. Esme

    Yeah, well..

    I don't know, and the vast majority of the time don't even care, about all the technical details of the CPUs, GPUs and graphics cards and all that, but I can say that back in the days of Windows XP I bought refurbished PC's because I was unemployed and couldn't afford anything else, and just had to live with the limited range of games that my PC could play. Here I am still buying refurbished PCs because I generally can't see the point of buying new.

    Quite aside from it being extremely difficult to impossible to buy new without also having to pay for Windows (which hasn't been of interest to me for my home machines for years now), the fact is that the performance of the refurbished PCs has been perfectly adequate for my needs. Whilst I'm not a hardcore gamer in hardcore gamer terms, I'm not infrequently considered to be one by friends, because I spend a lot of time playing games like Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program, as against Angry Birds and whatever the latest puzzle game is. The only game I've not been able to play that I'd quite like the opportunity to try has been the latest incarnation of Elite. But give it a few years, and I'll doubtless be able to buy refurbed kit that'll play it.

    Must be getting along - a refurbed PC I bought 5 years ago is about to be given a new Linux Mint install so it can go to some friends in need of replacing an extremely old WinXP box.... sorry, Intel! 8-}

  22. itzman

    Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

    There: That's it. All in the subject.

    The average content consumer wants fast cloud servers run by someone else and a POS slab to access them with.

    Only content creators in the most general sense need a desktop.

    And I cant wait for voice recognition to evict this keebored

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

      True dat.

      I don't even know what kind of deranged mind would downvote the self-evident truth.

      The PC market is done and so nineties-oughties. Dead as disco.

      Once enterprises again centralize the "desktop experience" on to the blade server in the corner, that market too will be gone.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

      In my part of the world we don't want fast cloud servers to replace PCs because that would makes us totally dependent on communications links, foreign companies and foreign intelligence agencies.

      The PC market is not dead, it is simply saturated.

      Everyone has a PC.

      Now, at the slow rate of hardware innovation, PCs will be replaced at the same rate as they wear out.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

        My opinion has been the desktop/laptop market is a mature market and most sales will be replacement kit. Jack & Jill User do not stress their current kit and are not likely to stress any new kit.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

        >>PCs will be replaced at the same rate as they wear out

        Which is EXACTLY the same as "Nothing is going to revive the desktop market". Revive means sell more of them, claw back some market from laptops/tablets. I cannot see this happening, and I cannot really see the desktop managing to avoid losing more market share to laptops when you no longer have to spend a more to get a laptop that's adequately specced for normal home use.

    3. John Sanders

      Re: Nothing is going to revive the desktop market

      >>> The average content consumer

      Wants the movie to play without shutter and enough storage to store a few hundred songs.

      And it happens that any machine fits that bill these days.

  23. Rol Silver badge

    Obsolescence in PCs was always assured.

    Until recently that is.

    I affirmed to my friends that my latest PC will be the last I ever build and that was about two years ago.

    The only blot on the landscape, so far, is 4k video, which I am guessing might be beyond my AMD A10.

    No worries though as I can just recode 4k down to 1080p and not notice any difference in quality.

    But, is 4k the only industry lead market stirrer? Are there other, arguably unnecessary "advancements" down the line intended to turn your cutting edge PC into another donation to Africa?

    More importantly, what are Intel baking into their new chips and what is M$ coding into its O/S?

    Strange questions you might be thinking, but given the industry is hell bent on reviving sales, it is not beyond the pale to suggest such behemoths might like to edge their bets when it comes to obsolescence.

    If you got a decent PC within the last few years, or a high performer in the last four or five, then I doubt nothing has challenged its capabilities, and, but for 4k, nothing appears likely to.

    Pc shifters are obviously a little anxious about the lack of incentives to go out and buy buy buy, and are perhaps looking to the industry to either uninvent the ever lasting lightbulb that is a modern pc or software houses to make the room a hell of a lot bigger.

    Making the room bigger, has always been the normal route to encourage pc sales, but when people can enjoy a game just as much on its lower settings and are unwilling to spend more to appreciate just how tall the ceiling goes, then the stagnation sets in.

    Stagnation in an industry that relies on growth, is not a good thing and no doubt efforts are afoot to bring totally bonkers games and software to bear down upon us, but I have no doubt the silicon guru's also have a plan to make their shiny new chips fade faster than a pair of cheap jeans.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obsolescence in PCs was always assured.

      Are there other, arguably unnecessary "advancements" down the line intended to turn your cutting edge PC into another donation to Africa?

      Yes. Noticed an interesting thing with Intel's "RealSense" 3D camera technology, which they're rolling out to manufacturers.

      Note - RealSense uses a short range IR camera for depth detection, in addition to a normal camera, assembling the data into a 3D composite. It literally see's what's in front of it as 3D depth data + colour.

      I was interested in it, but the minimum OS for using it is Windows 8.1. And if you're a developer... for access to the dev kit you must legally agree to not use it with any non-Windows OS. (A linux guy wrote drivers for it... and got in trouble :<).

      Seems to be some weird M$ <-> Intel tie up with the RealSense stuff. Suspecting collusion of some sort, but no evidence. :/

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Obsolescence in PCs was always assured.

        "Seems to be some weird M$ <-> Intel tie up with the RealSense stuff."

        Wanna bet Intel is licensing Kinect-related patents and tech from Microsoft? Meaning trying to do this on a non-MS OS constitutes Patent Infringement?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obsolescence in PCs was always assured.

      I was going to bite on a Skylake machine but I was looking for a future proof box that would play nicely with the new 4K telly I'm planning to buy. Unfortunately, Skylake can't handle decoding of HEVC HDR at 10 bit in the hardware which means that it's not compatible with my proposed 4K HDR telly.

      Obviously, Skylake can manage this is software very easily but I'd rather not have a box under the telly with a stressed CPU so I'm going to wait for Kabylake next year which will do 10 bit HDR in hardware:(. Ho hum. Still another 12 months to save up my pennies and I can make do with Netflix HDR when it starts in the meantime.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Obsolescence in PCs was always assured.

        "Obviously, Skylake can manage this is software very easily but I'd rather not have a box under the telly with a stressed CPU so I'm going to wait for Kabylake next year which will do 10 bit HDR in hardware:(. "

        Wanna bet by the time that happens some improvement in H.265 (or even a full-blown successor) will come along that your hardware will not be able to do? The tradeoff with a general-purpose processor is that it's not a consummate master of any specific tech, but it's flexible enough to be much more future-resistant.

  24. Mage Silver badge

    Meh

    Yawn.

    I boot three laptops once a day. Even an 13 year old laptop is 45 second boot on a mechanical HDD.

    I never use sleep or hibernate.

    New batteries can be bought and I only see ARM tablets with significantly longer battery life. Four hours versus 2.5 hours isn't a reason to upgrade. 8 hours would be.

    I don't want a new MS OS unless it's a re-imagined NT3.51 with decent desktop or maybe a new version of XP. MS can stick their too mobile, too touchy, too privacy breaking, too broadband dependent, cloud and rental orientated W10 junk. I thought they couldn't get worse after Office Ribbon. Then they did Vista. Win 10 is a rushed attempt to fix Win8. Unlike Win7 (which ought to have been free to Vista owners) which was a more considered patch of Win7.

    Migrating to Linux Mint using Mate and WINE. Bye Bye MS. Intel is trapped. The Itanium was a fail. The x64 was really AMD's idea. Instead of using their ARM licence they STILL fiddle with "low power" x86-64 for an OS no-one wants anymore. They could do a brilliant ARM SOC for phones, tablets and entry level laptops and do some decent chunky Workstation Laptops for the legacy X86-64, if MS bothered to do a sensible version of Windows. Of course there is still Servers and Mac OS (for now) and there will always be Linux for those that want it on a workstation.

    This launch lacks vision and focus.

  25. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Ultrabooks..

    We are buying Dell Latitude Ultrabooks with i5s in my organization. These are upgradable--they have 2 memory slots and an easily removable MSATA drive. You can actually add a 2nd drive on some of them due to a PCI-E slot on the mobo. They are probably one of the best Ultrabooks around IMHO, at least for business use. However, I did some benchmarking and under Windows 7 they actually perform not as well as the laptops we were using 3 years ago, despite the higher clock speeds, as long as said laptops are equipped with a decent SSD. Less efficient chipset? Not sure.

    Regarding PCs, I am an IT professional like a lot of readers of this site. And I am using a 4-5 year old AMD-based desktop at home as my main PC and probably won't upgrade it for at least another year or two. It still performs just fine for my needs, including some moderate gaming, and I feel like most of the "Gee Whiz!" features that Intel is touting are just fluff with little value in practical day-to-day use. Facial recognition? My Galaxy S5 will do that but I find the feature annoying and prefer to unlock it with a fingerprint. You can record a video of your game? Who hasn't been able to do that for a long time? Maybe Intel's integrated video is getting there, but it's not going to hold a candle to a dedicated video card from Nvidia or AMD any time soon. And you can get these in laptops too if you shop around. And Windows 10 is more efficient and secure in many ways, but still underwhelming for most.

    For most people, we're reaching a point of diminishing returns on hardware upgrades. Sure there are hard core gamers, developers, and CAD/CAE guys that need the horsepower, but most of the aimlessly wandering populace just use the web, Facebook, and maybe some Office apps. The constant upgrade cycle and the expenses and hassle inherent in it just doesn't benefit most people nearly as often as Intel/MS/Dell/everyone wants people to believe. The PC world could look to the auto industry and see how old the average car on the road is to get a better idea of how often people are willing to upgrade. And the auto industry is employing some of the most aggressive marketing available to get you to upgrade to the latest shiny thing.

  26. Saul Dobney

    This is where I think we are going...

    Seemless integration across all the screens we have now with pick-up-and-go-ness. Basically that means a tablet that responds like a screen when it's mounted on/close to the PC/llaptop controller, but can be picked up, walked away with as you move from sitting at your PC to taking the tablet on the train.

    For instance, lets say I have a website I'm reading on the laptop. I drag the window to the tablet with the mouse as if it's just another screen for the laptop - it remains a functioning window - this isn't a simple file transfer - it just looks and responds like another screen. I then pick up the tablet and walk off still reading the website. The laptop shuts down. I still have the website/application and I don't notice that it is no longer on the original device.

    For an office environment it works as follows. I'm building a presentation on the PC. I move it to the tablet screen (simple window drag as if moving it to a second or third screen) then take the tablet to the presentation and I can then show it on the projector (maybe another drag to the next screen). If I want to share it with colleagues I simply drag-copy to their screen and they can take it back to their desk to work with further.

    The point being that the data becomes independent of the device and all walls are removed. Different devices just give different ways of seeing or controlling the data but work together to make moving across devices completely barrier-less.

    Does it need superfast CPUs? i don't know. But I guess it does need super-fast inter-device communications and a hidden degree of parallelism to hide the connections. it probably means people working across many more screens at the same time in a much more flexible way (imagine 'handing over' a ticket just by dragging it from the salesman's screen to the customer's smart phone screen).

  27. WatAWorld

    Computer hardware makers need to stop making silly excuses for their failures.

    "Lack of innovation and weak Windows 10 apps will hold back upgrades"

    Innovative and strong Windows 10 apps won't drive machine upgrades, all it would do is drive upgrades from to Windows 10 from other operating systems.

    All that will drive PC sales is strong hardware innovations (and creative sales & marketing people).

    Computer hardware makers need to stop making silly excuses for their failures.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Computer hardware makers need to stop making silly excuses for their failures.

      Thing is, hardware innovation is kind of hitting the wall. You can't step the frequencies much higher than 4GHz before you run into problems, so that's out. Current PC workloads can only be divided so much, so more cores right now hits diminishing returns pretty quickly. Furthermore, apart from specialist fields (gaming, compute-intensive jobs like encoding and modeling), PC power has become overkill. Who needs a quad core to surf the average web page or type up a letter to Grandma, after all?

      In essence, PC demand hasn't moved much due to lack of need. Unless it moves again (and the lack of need stymies efforts to move it), the PC market is probably going to hit saturation. The market may not go away, but it'll likely niche over the next few years or so as many people find less need to replace their machines, leaving only the hardcore performance-hungry users to cater.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Computer hardware makers need to stop making silly excuses for their failures.

      It isn't all their fault, though they do have to take some blame. Stop trying to segment the market so much by restricting features on models.

      Give us a decent thin, light (<1.5kg) system with a good 1920x1080+ 13"-15" matte screen, replaceable batteries, at least one memory slot and a standard format (PCIe or SATA3) SSD, a large trackpad with some sort of 3-button functionality, proper-sized arrow keys, some USB ports and AC wireless.

      If you want to get fancy, do some CTI with my mobile so I have the option of using it with my PC to make/receive calls and the other way around - using my phone's contacts book to dial on a softphone, kick off email etc. Document hand-off between phone and PC can be done over local wifi/hotspot with SSHFS - I don't want or need no steekin' cloud. If I'm doing hand-off, I'm holding both devices.

      W10 wasn't going to drive the hardware market because the OS shouldn't be doing that and people (rightly) wouldn't stand for it. Companies are pulling data back into the DC from PC's so there's little driver to actually process data on PCs any more - we're heading back to almost dumb terminals. A more sophisticated Word processor, with spreadsheets bolted on not to analyse data, but because Word's list indentation system feels a bit shaky and A4 ain't large enough. Spreadsheets mostly act as an information pin-board. When data is all locked away in the DC and no-one can do much with it, perhaps we'll see a swing back the other way, as we did when the PC was born. For now, the PC server farm is taking the place of the mainframe's role of yesteryear.

      This is before we get into conspiracy theories regarding whether really powerful desktop CPUs might poach Xeon sales and the fact that AMD is really not giving Intel enough of a poke in the eye. Perhaps we'll have to wait a couple of years for the Chinese to catch up in CPU tech before things get moving again. For my part, I'd like to see Linux-proper gain mobile power-saving feature options. Maybe standard Gnome 3 (or whatever QT is doing) would be suitable for a phone or tablet. I'd like a proper Linux desktop, rather than one of the "optimised" abominations currently seen in the mobile space. Perhaps on ARM. Different cores with process migration? Yes please!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Computer hardware makers need to stop making silly excuses for their failures.

        "Give us a decent thin, light (<1.5kg) system with a good 1920x1080+ 13"-15" matte screen, replaceable batteries, at least one memory slot and a standard format (PCIe or SATA3) SSD, a large trackpad with some sort of 3-button functionality, proper-sized arrow keys, some USB ports and AC wireless."

        Thing is, it sounds a lot like conflicting goals. For 1080p, many people complain when tablets use that kind of resolution, and in the PC sphere, pixel precision can actually be important. The SSD may or may not be desirable depending on the capacity needs of the user. Trackpads butts heads with the keyboard: the larger the pad, the smaller the keyboard has to be, and the keys have to be a certain minimum size in order to prevent complaints of double-striking (the keys being so small typists end up going over the edge and smacking the adjacent kley at the same time—see what I mean?) Same with the arrow key support. If you add arrow keys, other keys will likely have to go. Basically, they have to cater to the needs of the most customers, and most customers are concerned foremost about price. So consider yourself in an unfortunate minority.

  28. Steven Jones

    "Good Enough"

    Surely the simple answer is that for the great majority of people, the great majority of time, current PC technology is "fast enough" once you combine a half-decent CPU, graphics card, 8gb memory and (almost any) SSD into the mix.

    That's not to deny there aren't a number of people who will demand as much power as the industry can deliver. Ultimate gamers, video producers. It's simply that those people don't constitute a large enough market to revive the market. That's rather different to a decade ago when using a PC could be painfully slow and limited technology.

    So until somebody comes up with a killer "must have" that absolutely requires a radical new technology (and what might that be? A true AI system?), then we are just into a mature market with incremental changes.

    1. NeonTeepee
      Coat

      Re: "Good Enough"

      Dear PC manufacturers...... I'll fetch your coats.

      Im a consultant and I do a lot of work with system center and other management/delivery tools.

      At some point during an engagement that generally involves talking to 'the business' about EUC hardware. Most of my clients have already reverted to buying hardware rather than leasing it, and then just run it until it breaks. I have given up trying to muster an argument to support buying new hardware to replace a 3 year old desktop for an oxygen thief out their in user land because I simply dont believe there is one anymore. Only exception is, as mentioned CAD and workstation people who can never have too much grunt in their CPU or GPU.

      Maybe we need 'less reliable' hardware :-P

  29. ben_myers

    Win 10, the boat anchor

    All the neat new Intel processors are great. Same with better and faster graphics chips and SSDs. But the controversial Windows 10 is now the boat anchor keeping desktop/laptop/ultrabook/tablet sales from taking off. Let's see if anyone can pull off successful holiday hardware sales campaign.

  30. JDX Gold badge

    “There are over 500 million computers in use today that are four to five years old or older.”

    “There are over 500 million computers in use today that are four to five years old or older. They are slow to wake, their batteries don’t last long, and they can’t take advantage of all the new experiences available today,”

    My desktop PC is ~6 years old and only cost ~£400 new. After I put in an SSD, it boots in 10-20s and awakes from hibernation in ~5s with no sluggishness.

    The CPU has not been the limiting factor for some time in desktops. However the power-saving is excellent news for laptops.

  31. kb
    Thumb Down

    Gamers don't need these either

    Because the rotting elephant in the room is that PC games have reached a plateau, the cost is simply getting too high to keep pushing for ever fancier graphics that fewer PCs will be able to play. Look at the top 10 PC games...are there any that can't be played at 30 FPS with a Phenom II quad or C2Q with a $150 GPU? I seriously doubt it.

    The simple facts is once we hit multicores PCs went from "good enough" to insanely overpowered for the tasks that the majority, hell even most gamers, have for them. I have customers with Phenom I triples and quads as well as C2Ds and quads and for the tasks they have? They all work fine and for the few that asked for more speed? An SSD has made them very happy with the hardware they have.

    There really isn't a need for upgrading before the hardware dies, and these companies need to accept the MHz wars are over and ain't never coming back. PCs are dishwashers and TVs now, don't toss until it croaks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gamers don't need these either

      The Top Ten games NOW, but that'll change pretty soon.

      Now, granted, the CPU demands are not that significant going forward, but remember that these CPUs also drive the PCI Express Bus, which in turn is the base for the GPUs, and THIS is where you need the oomph. Plus having more (and newer) memory can't hurt. Oh, and 64-bit will be the baseline going forward. So if your CPU is over five years old, gaming demands will soon put a serious strain on your machine, especially since the auxiliary stuff that support these CPUs will have been dead-ended for several years by now.

      According to the specs, new stuff like Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V will need pretty recent stuff to run acceptably, and by that I mean something along the lines of a GT 740 or R7 240. DX11 will be the baseline, and expect this to become 12 once Win X picks up some steam.

      My current rig is about six years old and at the time only PCIe 1.0 and DDR2 were available. It's also maxed out at 8GB. Basically, it's about as far as it can go, so I'm about to take a step up, though not to this level. No, just a decently recent i5 with PCIe 3.0 and DDR3 support and the ability to take a middle-of-the-road (in current terms) GPU that should in the end boost each end's performance by a factor of at least 2 (especially considering my current GPU is a 2.0 in a 1.0 slot, so it's actually nerfed). I consider that and the added upgrade headroom worth $350.

      1. kb
        Happy

        Re: Gamers don't need these either

        Mind a bit of advice? Get an AMD FX6 or FX8. You can get the FX6300 for $98 USD and the FX8320 for $138 USD, that is 6 cores minimum and a minimum turbo of 4Ghz and the money you save? Will let you get a REALLY nice gaming board. I got a triple Xfire gaming board, 16Gb of RAM, R9 280, FX8320E, 3TB HDD for storage and a 120GB SSD and the whole shebang was around $500 USD after MIR.

        That said I don't see how you got gimped with PCIe 1.0 unless you literally just took some HP or Dell and tried using that as a gamer box, as my last PC (which for the record played all my games at above 30 FPS, the only reason I upgraded is the oldest boy has his PC die and it gave me an excuse to treat myself to just give him mine) was right at 6 years old and had a Phenom II X6 with 8GB (supports 16GB) and dual PCIe 2.0 and that wasn't even a high end board, IIRC it was like $55 USD. He currently has no issues with playing new FPS and MMOs, he just swapped out my HD7790 for an R9 280 like mine, runs fabulously.

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