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Intel Kaby Lake: 14nm+, Higher Clocks, New Media Engine

Media Performance

HEVC And VP9 Performance

Intel provided two live demonstrations to illustrate the hardware-accelerated performance gains, and associated reduction in CPU utilization with Kaby Lake (compared to Skylake).

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The first demonstration highlighted the combined power draw for both the CPU and GPU during local 4K HEVC video playback. The Skylake system exhibited 50% host processor utilization and 10.2W of power draw, while the Kaby Lake system only required 5% of the CPU and a mere 0.5W of power. The increased efficiency equates to a 20x power reduction and up to 2.6x more battery life.

The VP9 demonstration consisted of streaming YouTube content in Chrome, and while not as impressive, it still delivered a marked increase in efficiency. The Kaby Lake system required ~15% CPU utilization and 0.8W, while the Skylake system consumed nearly 75% of CPU resources and 5.8W of power during the same workload. 

The Net-Net

Finally, we come down to the net gains. Intel broke performance down to three segments, work, create, and game, comparing Kaby Lake to a five-year-old PC. Of course, some will groan with the comparison to such an old system, but Intel contends that the numbers are relevant because a majority of users will migrate from these older platforms to Kaby Lake.

In either case, the company claims a 1.7x increase in work productivity, defined as common tasks like converting Word documents to PDFs, PowerPoint use, and Excel macros. The create portion, which encompasses creating, editing, and sharing 4K videos, showed an 8.6x increase, and the Kaby Lake system provided a 3x boost while playing Overwatch.

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In a more relevant comparison for enthusiasts, the company highlighted a few Skylake versus Kaby Lake test results. Intel's measurements indicate a 12% performance increase in SYSmark 2014, which is an application-based benchmark that tests office productivity, media creation, and data/financial analysis workloads. WebXPRT 2015 measures performance with HTML5 and JavaScript-based workloads, and Intel also provided test results that highlight a 19% performance increase over Skylake during common Web browsing activity.

It is important to note that Intel only provided the aggregate performance results in the slide above, but gave us a more detailed test-by-test breakdown in the images below.

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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.