Intel launches major new processor range

More than 50 new processors will appear in hundreds of anticipated PCs

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An Intel engineer shows off a wafer of sixth-generation Intel Core processors at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

Credit: Martyn Williams

Intel launched a new family of mainstream processors on Wednesday -- an important step for the company which has had trouble keeping up in a marketplace that is increasing defined by mobile devices.

The chips were previously known by their "Skylake" code-name but with their launch are now called the sixth-generation Intel Core processors.

They are the product of four years of development at Intel and will begin appearing in new desktop, laptop and tablet PCs before the end of the year. They come just after Microsoft launched its new Windows 10 operating system and the PC industry is hoping that will drive consumers to buy new machines.

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A sixth-generation Intel Core processor, shown without its mounting package at the IFA trade show in Berlin on September 2, 2014

Intel senior vice president Kirk Skaugen has his eye on the upgrade market: "There are more than a billion PCs out there that are more than 3 years old," he said at a news conference in Berlin.

But Microsoft has been stressing that Windows 10 runs fine on current generation hardware, and gone are the days when new processors bring boosts in everyday tasks such as e-mail and web browsing.

For many users, the biggest benefits of the new chips will come from lower power consumption that brings longer battery life and thinner laptops. 

Intel is also stressing the benefits in video performance, hoping consumers will see a need for the chips to play 4K video, although there's still not much content available at that resolution.

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Kirk Skaugen, a senior vice president at Intel, shows off a wafer of sixth-generation Intel Core processors at the IFA trade show in Berlin on September 2, 2014

The new chips will come in over 50 different variants that could have consumers scratching their heads.

The Core i3, i5 and i7 chips will be aimed at mainstream machines, Core m3, m5 and m7 are for tablet PCs and 2-in-1 computers, then there are additional Core i5, i7, m5 and m7 chips with Intel's vPro security system and a new version of the Xeon processor for mobile use.

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