What do you get if you take a "Sandy Bridge" processor, make it smaller, and give it a little extra kick? You get the next generation "Ivy Bridge" processors expected next year from Intel. Intel itself is still keeping its plans a secret, but details of the "Ivy Bridge" processor lineup have leaked.
According to information reported by X-bit Labs, a lineup of Core i5 and Corei7 "Ivy Bridge" processors will be available in Q2 2012. They are all quad core, except one economy Core i5 processor. The rest of the Core i5s reportedly have a 6MB cache and speeds ranging from 2.7GHz to 3.4GHz. The Core i7 lineup has 8MB cache, and clock speeds from 2.5GHz to 3.5GHz.
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The "Ivy Bridge" processors will support PCIe 3.0 x16, and come with native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. It will be up to hardware manufacturers to determine which of those slot and port technologies individual systems will include, though.
The most notable difference between the "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" processors is that Intel is building the next generation CPUs using 22nm architecture -- a nearly 30 percent drop in size from the existing 32nm chips. Good things come in small packages, though, so there are some benefits that come with the smaller processors.
First, "Ivy Bridge" CPUs will consume less power. That translates to lower energy costs, and lower heat output, which snowballs the lower energy costs because less power is then required to cool the system as well.
Second, the smaller central processor makes more room for the integrated graphics chip, allowing Intel to boost the graphics processing capabilities. The "Ivy Bridge" graphics capabilities are estimated to be up to 60 percent faster, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11.
"Ivy Bridge" is an incremental bump from the "Sandy Bridge" processors available today. If your current computer is dragging and makes you want to throw it through a window every day, I don’t recommend you hold out until the middle of 2012 -- especially based on leaked information, which may or may not prove true.
The good news is that the "Ivy Bridge" processors will work with existing "Sandy Bridge" motherboards. So, if you do get a new system now with a "Sandy Bridge" CPU, you will have an upgrade path available, and won’t be painting yourself into a corner.