Intel Ivy Bridge Chipset Ready For Launch

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Intel Corporation recently introduced the quad-core 3rd generation Intel Core processor family, formerly codenamed Ivy Bridge, delivering dramatic visual and performance computing gains for gamers, media enthusiasts and mainstream users alike. Available now in powerful, high-end desktop, laptop and sleek all-in-one (AIO) designs, the new processors are the first chips in the world made using Intel’s 22-nanometer (nm) 3-D tri-Gate transistor technology.
Chipmaker Intel gave details this week of 14 Ivy Bridge-based processors, named the '3rd generation of Intel Core Processors', which will go on sale on the 29th of April. This initial wave of processors is aimed at desktops; further chips for ultrabooks and mobile devices are expected in the second half of the year.

"Our engineers have exceeded our expectations by doubling the performance of media and graphics versus the best processors we've built until today, which means incredible new virtual experiences are here for new all-in-one PCs and upcoming ultrabook devices," Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said in a press release.

The Ivy Bridge chips are built on a 22nm tri-gate silicon process. Intel's 3D transistors operate at a lower voltage with less energy leakage, which increases their efficiency, according to the company.

Unpublished benchmarkingtest results by a major software provider found the Ivy Bridge chipset have it operating "50% better" than Sandy Bridge.

While the processors use broadly the same chip architecture as their 32nm Sandy Bridge predecessors, this has been shrunk to fit to a 22nm process — an approach known in the industry as a 'shrink-in'. However, more space on the die has been given over to the chips' integrated graphical components. This means the chips support Intel HD Graphics 4000, which works with the OpenGL 3.1, OpenCL 1.1 and Direct X11 APIs for visual performance.

"The graphics side of the processor has been significantly overhauled and improved," Scott Pendrey, a desktop product manager at Intel, told ZDNet UK. "They are very much equivalent to entry level and pushing up into mid-level discrete [graphics cards]."

Besides integrated graphics, the chipset has integrated USB 3.0 support and partial support for Thunderbolt — though an additional in-development Cactus Ridge chipset will be required to unlock all of the features in that I/O technology, Pendrey said.

Ivy Bridge chips operate at a higher level of efficiency than their Sandy Bridge predecessors, according to Intel. However, "the story isn't necessarily about saving power", Pendrey said. "The net result of shrinkage is more performance, rather than [lower thermal design power]."

The thermal design power (TDP) for the processors is roughly similar to that of their predecessors, in that it varies from 65W to 130W.

Intel sees Ivy Bridge as a crucial element of its ultrabook campaign — a push by the chip giant to create a new class of lightweight laptops that compete with Apple's MacBooks. It hopes the energy-efficient processors will allow hardware makers to create mobile devices with extensive battery lives.

"The long-term vision is that ultrabooks will become the normal creation device" for putting together content such as movies, documents and presentations, Pendrey said. However, he acknowledged that "for consumption devices, people are moving into a more tablet [-style] form factor".


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