This is the first time I can remember that PC gaming was mentioned at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) without me having to remind an exec that we existed. Unprompted, Intel's Kirk Skaugen took to the stage in the main keynote proclaiming “desktop is alive and well. It's innovating, whether it's small form factors, all-in-ones, portable all-in-ones or extreme gaming.”
"There are 711 million PC gamers in the world today, that's one in ten people on the planet,” he enthused.
Skaugen was talking up their new Broadwell processors, coming our way early next year. They're Intel's first 14nm product based on the Haswell microarchitecture. Simply put,” he said, “this 14nm technology is the most advanced silicon manufacturing technology in the world.”
But it's not simply the die-shrink that's going to be important for Broadwell as Intel is really pushing forward the processor graphics of its next CPUs.
That's interesting because, for the first time, Intel is going to be slotting their top Iris Pro GPU component into a socketed processor. That means you should be able to buy an Iris Pro-based processor and drop it into a cheapo mini-ITX H97 motherboard to make an affordable mini gaming PC.
Of course you can already get a small form factor PC with the likes of the NUC and Gigabyte's Brix Pro, but those are super-expensive products. I'm hoping that Intel shifts the Iris Pro down into the more affordable i5 processor ranges, but they are not able to say yet what from those chips are going to take.
Unfortunately it's likely to remain a differentiator for Intel's K-series processors, even down at the Core i5 level. That still means potential for a far more affordable, teensy 1080p gaming PC than ever before.
“We're really focused around PC gaming and enthusiasts. This is the one area of PCs that has kept growing,” Intel's Lisa Graff told me at the show. “These are out most loyal customers: PC gamers. They want as much performance as we can throw at them. We're going to bring Intel's best technologies to bear for PC gaming.”