After 11 years in the R&D lab, Intel yesterday launched the first of its highly-anticipated third-generation Ivy Bridge Core processors based on its debut 22nm tri-gate transistor technology. The chip maker unveiled 13 quad-core chips based on the new architecture, which are optimised for desktop, notebook and all-in-one PCs.
Dual-core versions optimised for ultrabooks will launch in the "coming months," Intel said.
The 13 Ivy Bridge processors introduced Monday are said to deliver a 20 percent jump in processor performance compared to the prior generation Sandy Bridge-based chips. They also tout a 20 percent lower power envelope than their predecessors, and they more than double the graphics and media performance.
Intel said these benchmarks, and particularly the boost in graphics performance, exceeded its expectations for Ivy Bridge. Normally, Intel employs a "Tick Tock" development model for its chips, whereby a new manufacturing process is introduced in one year (the "tick"), and a new architecture the next (the "tock").
But Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said the new 22-nm chips represent a development milestone for the chip maker, which it fittingly dubbed "Tick Plus."
"You’re going to see absolutely stunning visuals, and I’m pleased to say that things at Intel are going very well," Skaugen said.
"We are actually exceeding our expectations and are going to be talking about a concept on our Tick Tock model called 'Tick Plus.' What we mean by that is that we have significantly exceeded our expectations around the graphics and media performance of this next-generation processor."
Skaugen explained per the Tick Tock model, each new processor launched is expected to increase the media and graphics performance of the prior generation by 70 percent. Because the 22-nm Ivy Bridge line-up more than doubles the graphics performance of its predecessor, the 32-nm Sandy Bridge series, it earned its "Tick Plus" distinction.
In addition to faster performance, Intel’s quad-core Ivy Bridge chips include faster data transfer capabilities with integrated USB 3.0 and PCI Express 3.0 capabilities. They also come equipped with Intel Secure Key and Intel OS Guard technology to safeguard personal data and strengthen encryption.
Skaugen said that the new Ivy Bridge line-up will power a total of 270 desktop and all-in-one PC designs and 300 notebook PC designs.
PCs and beyond
Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, system builder and Intel partner, said like all Intel releases in the PC space, Ivy Bridge has the potential to regenerate consumer interest in traditional desktop and notebook computing.
"The [PC] client part of the market place is a little dry," Swank said. "So anything we can do to get customers excited about PCs again is a good thing."
But the bigger opportunity Ivy Bridge presents for resellers is with ultrabooks, he continued. Ivy Bridge, for traditional PCs, is no doubt evolutionary - but it’s not necessarily revolutionary, Swank said. The real demand for the new processors will hit when Intel’s super-thin ultrabook notebooks, powered by its Ivy Bridge processors, launch with Windows 8 later this year.
"With great battery life and great graphics, all of this will tie into making ultrabooks a very competitive and very cool product," he said.
Intel VP Skaugen said that desktop, notebook and all-in-one PCs running the new quad-core Ivy Bridge processors will be available from Intel OEMs "shortly," while the dual-core versions for ultrabooks are expected in the new coming months.
He also said that the company’s Tick Tock model is "alive and well," and that 14-nm chips, code-named Haswell, are next in line.