Intel reportedly is getting ready to release the first of its 22-nanometer "Ivy Bridge" processors in the second quarter of 2012.
According to a report on the X-bit Laboratories Website, Intel will roll out five of the Ivy Bridge chips-three Core i5 processors for mainstream systems and two Core i7 chips for high-performance computers-all but one of which will be quad-core processors. They will range in speed from 3.1GHz to 3.5GHz, according to a chart in the X-bit Labs report. Two of the i5 chips will have 6MB of cache; the i7 offerings will have 8MB.
The Ivy Bridge chips will be the follow-on to the current 32nm Sandy Bridge processors, which were introduced in January at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show and were the first to offer high-end graphics capabilities integrated onto the same piece of silicon as the CPU. Intel officials have said that the Sandy Bridge chips have been the fastest-ramping products in the chip maker's history.
Intel executives have promised significant energy efficiency, performance and graphics improvements in Ivy Bridge over the current Sandy Bridge offerings. They have said performance could be boosted by as much as 37 percent, energy efficiency by 50 percent and graphics performance by as much as 60 percent, with support for DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1.
The Ivy Bridge chips also will play a central role in Intel's aggressive push into the mobile computing space in 2012. They will feature Intel's new Tri-Gate transistor architecture, a three-dimensional structure that will help boost the chip's performance while driving down electrical leakage and power consumption.
With the combination of better performance and lower power consumption, Intel is positioning the Ivy Bridge chips as the technology that will help it break into a booming mobile computing space that currently is dominated by chips designed by ARM Holdings. Intel executives have said that the first Ivy Bridge chips will appear in PCs and servers, but will start moving into other devices, such as tablets and smartphones, at a later date.
They also will be a driving force behind what Intel executives expect will be a rapidly growing adoption of ultrabooks, very thin and light notebooks-championed by the chip maker-that are designed to offer the advantages of traditional notebooks as well as some of the features-from long battery life, instant-on functionality and constant connectivity-as tablets.
Intel introduced the ultrabook concept in May, and several vendors, including Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba, already have rolled out systems based on the current Sandy Bridge chips. While the systems offer many of the features that Intel requires in ultrabooks, most do not come in under the $1,000 price, which the vendor is targeting to help ultrabooks compete with Apple's Macbook Pros.
Intel executives have said that the introduction of the Ivy Bridge chips will help drive the next generation of ultrabooks in 2012, and have said they expect dozens of ultrabook designs from various OEMs.