There have been some important announcements in the CPU world by both AMD and Intel recently. AMD has announced the forthcoming Zen processor series. Intel just officially announced the Kaby Lake processor line.
AMD announced a few months back, its forthcoming processor line named "Zen". This is AMD's first significant update in quite a few years. Their previous Bulldozer line was a bit of a letdown to many in performance upgrades from their previous generations. This generation is said to be competitive with the current Intel lines and double the power of their previous FX 600 and FX8300 line. Zen will be based on 14nm architecture which means a new socket, AM4.
Intel just announced its next processor line, Kaby Lake. This is a departure from Intel's normal "Tick Tock" release process. Kaby lake is currently looking like it will just be a minor update of of Skylake with less power consumption. It will stay at the same 14nm architecture as Broadwell and Skylake.
While in all, these are nothing more than normal product announcements (though Intel's is quite the letdown), what is significant is the OS support announcement that came along with these new CPU's. Both AMD and Intel have stated that their new processor lines will not be supported for any older Microsoft OS below Windows 10.
While this initially will obviously upset a lot of users and may very well slow down some users from updating, their must be some benefits. Intel had originally announced that Skylake would drop support for Windows 7-8, they later reconsidered.
PC World did ask a spokeswoman Microsoft if that "position was still in place" she replied "As new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon,"
An AMD representative stated: “AMD’s processor roadmap is fully aligned with Microsoft’s software strategy,” AMD chief technical officer Mark Papermaster said, via a company spokeswoman".
While not negating the effect this could have on die hard Windows 7 users, we must look at the possible upsides. Ultimately we can hope for deeper OS and processor integration. This can very well lead to better performance and more stable operation. It could also lead to a better integration of peripheral devices. A best case scenario for audio users is the possibility of improved latency and stability.
At this point there is no detailed information, though the release times of both processors is fairly soon. Will these new generation processors even boot with an older OS? will this create problems for software/driver developers trying to support both platforms? Will we experience real world improvements from this integration? Unfortunately we don't have the answers we want currently, though the next 6 months to a year should be able to answer a lot of this.