Until the end of last year, the two things that were keeping Microsoft from releasing Surface Pro 5 have generally been thought to be the Kaby Lake processor from Intel, and Windows 10 Creators Update. Now that Kaby Lake is out and Creators Update is in its final pre-release stages, what’s the delay.
A new rumor has now cropped up that Microsoft may be waiting for an even better processor for Surface Pro 5, dubbed Cannon Lake. Cannon Lake is essentially very similar to Kaby Lake’s microarchitecture, but uses a 10-nanometer die shrink to essentially create a new process node. It will be Intel’s 8th generation desktop processor, and the earliest it’s expected to be released is during the second half of 2017.
Why the decision to wait? If you own a Surface Pro 4, you’ll know that battery drain is one of the major issues with that model of hybrid tablet. Part of the problem is the power consumption on the Sky Lake processors used in the Surface Pro 4. There were also several reported issues of screen shakes/flickering, device lock-up, freezing, stuck on boot screen and several more. Not all of these are processor-related, of course, but there were enough process-related problems as well.
While Kaby Lake can stream 4K content effortlessly – or, at least, with a significantly lower impact – because of its video engine. You can already experience that on the Dell XPS 13.
Though built using the same 14nm process, Kaby Lake is optimized for advanced video playback. Its power efficiency, however, doesn’t appear to be a significant improvement over Skylake.
But Windows 10 Creators Update could now pose a potential problem even for a Surface Pro 5 running on Kaby Lake, because it comes with support for 3D, virtual reality and other intensive applications.
That could be one reason why Microsoft would want to wait for Cannon Lake to release.
Now, if that rumor is true, then we may not see Surface Pro 5 any time before July, possibly even later. The issue here is, can Microsoft afford to wait that long? More to the point, will they need to? The company is already clearing out its inventory of Surface Pro 4 by offering discounts of up to $200, and that’s a reasonably strong indication of an impending Surface Pro 5 in itself.
On the other hand, Microsoft may take the middle ground and release an entry-level Surface Pro 5 with Kaby Lake in April, and offer a more premium device with Cannon Lake at a later time, possibly right before the holiday season 2017. If that happens, then we may still see the base model come with 16GB RAM and 4K-capable display.
As plausible as all of that seems, Microsoft could well have other plans. Moreover, being a rumor, the Cannon Lake possibility is exactly that – a possibility.
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