On April 22, Intel officially launched the first wave of its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors. Boasted to be the “world’s first 22 nanometer product,” it features a new tri-gate technology. Coming from the 13 quad-core Core i5 and i7 lineup, the new processor is said to have 20% more performance that its Sandy Bridge predecessor while using 20% less power.
Ivy Bridge’s Fastest Ramp
Earlier this month, CEO Paul Otellini stated that the bulk of the initial Ivy Bridge lineup will go to desktop computers. However, it is expected that Apple’s redesigned MacBook Pro will also come with the next-generation processor under its hood. In addition, lower-end Core i3 and Core i5, ultrabook-friendly, and low-voltage processors are coming later this spring.
Intel’s PC business chief Kirk Skaugen said that the launch will be the company’s “fastest ramp ever” after moving to a 22nm process for the latest computer chip:
“There will be 50% more supply than we had early in the product cycle of our last generation, Sandy Bridge, a year ago. And we’re still constrained based on the amount of demand we’re seeing in the marketplace.”
Ivy Bridge’s key area of improvement is the graphics. The processor supports 4K resolution and features as much as a 60% performance boost over its predecessor. The integrated 4000 HD graphics are fast enough to handle the resolution and modern games at modest detail levels.
Moving to Tri-gate Transistors
Other than 4000 HD integrated graphics, Intel also introduced a transistor technology that is 11 years in the making with Ivy Bridge. From flat, two-dimensional transistors, they moved to three-dimensional “tri-gate transistors” that improve both the performance and efficiency of the processors with minimal cost increases.
Skaugen pointed out, “A lot of people had thought that Moore’s law was coming to an end. What Intel has been able to do is instead of just shrinking the transistor in two dimensions, we have been able to create a three-dimensional transistor for the first time.”
Other Ivy Bridge Features
Ivy Bridge is also first processor with the Intel architecture that natively supports USB 3.0. Until now, an AMD-based platform or a third-party USB controller chip was required in order to get faster speeds. This is believed to be the reason why Apple has held off from USB 3.0.
As for their redesigned MacBook Pros, Apple is decreasing the inventory of the old models in anticipation of the upcoming release of an overhauled 15-inch model. They are expected to draw upon the success of their MacBook Air, rolling out a slimmer and lighter notebook later this month.
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