Intel Sandy Bridge Chips Emphasize Graphics, Gaming: CES

Intel CEO Paul Otellini rolled out the chipmaker's new Sandy Bridge processors, which he said would account for one-third of the company's 2011 revenue.

LAS VEGAS-Intel CEO Paul Otellini introduced the chipmaker's new second-generation Core processor set at the Consumer Electronics Show here-a line of 20 chips that will shore up a PC and laptop market challenged by the rise of tablets and other mobile gadgets.

Code-named Sandy Bridge, the new Core chips (Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 chips) combine Intel 3D HD graphics capabilities with microprocessors on one 32-nanometer device. This is a marked departure from previous mainstream chips that kept the graphics and processing separate.

"Integrating this architecture gives us the ability to do things that discreet units can't do," Otellini said, citing power management and video transcoding.

For example, Otellini said a 4-minute HD video that used to take 4 minutes to transcode to play on an iPod could now take 16 seconds.

This will enable smoother delivery of HD media content, such as videos shot in 1080p, and gaming applications. Intel expects these capabilities to translate well to big-screen TVs.

How big does Intel expect Sandy Bridge to be? Otellini said the chipsets will account for one-third of Intel's 2011 revenue and will generate more than $125 billion in revenue for the PC sector. "This is a huge, huge product," he said.

Otellini turned over the stage here to Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC client group. Eden regaled the crowd with demonstrations and wisecracks.

Eden showed off Intel Insider, new technology that lets consumers access movies on their PCs in full high definition. He used a clip from the Warner Bros. film Inception to show how films can be accessed from CinemaNow, in full HD, from a laptop powered by the new Intel Core chips.

Accessing the content is not the trick, however; the perk with Insider is that users will be able to get hold of the fresh content from their laptops on the same day that the films are released on DVD and Blu-ray. HD content leveraging Insider will be available in the first quarter this year.

Eden also showed how Intel's new WiDi 2.0 technology-which supports 1080p HD and content protected with digital rights management streamed from the Web or played locally from DVD or Blu-ray-could pipe Inception to big-screen televisions.

Intel also has fitted its second-generation Core line with Quick Sync Video technology, which facilitates video editing. For gaming, Eden showed the Valve Portal 2 game running on the second-gen Core machines.

Intel is betting big on Sandy Bridge, as are software partners such as Microsoft. Otellini said Sandy Bridge is Intel's best engagement with Microsoft Windows 7 and the future Windows 8 platform.

Intel has competition coming in the form of AMD in 2011. AMD will soon launch its Fusion initiative, which offers Accelerated Processing Units -AMD's name for chips with integrated CPU-GPU capabilities.