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4/23/2012
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Intel Ships 13 Ivy Bridge Processors

Intel's quad-core chips are designed for desktop systems and provide twice the graphics performance of earlier processors.

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Intel Monday officially released its line of Ivy Bridge processors, which are to be built on the company's 22-nm tri-gate transistor process. Announced last year, Intel's new tri-gate technology allows the company to build smaller transistors that run faster and consume less power than ones built with previous technologies.

Intel said that 13 quad-core Ivy Bridge processors all aimed at desktop systems would be available immediately. The processors will fall into Intel's Core i5 and i7 families and represent the third generation of the Core architecture. Dual-core chips more appropriate for notebooks such as those built on Intel's ultrabook concept will be released later in the spring, according to company officials. The delay is largely due to excess inventory of Sandy Bridge dual core chips.

By using its tri-gate technology, Intel claims a 20% improvement in performance and energy efficiency. Intel says that its tri-gate manufacturing facilities are coming on line more quickly than any of its previous technologies. The company reports that three plants are now producing the tri-gate chips and that a fourth will be online soon.

[ What is tri-gate? See Intel Makes 3-D Transistors Reality. ]

Independent performance numbers are not yet available for the chip, but the Ivy Bridge design includes important enhancements over its Sandy Bridge predecessor. Notable enhancements include: support for PCI Express 3.0, support for faster and lower-power RAM, and more graphical execution units known as GPUs.

The most significant improvement in performance is expected to come in the chip's graphics subsystem. Faster technology and an additional four GPUs will allow the chip to handle higher resolution displays. Intel now says to expect two times the performance of its existing subsystem, which is about 30% better than Intel had been promising.

Intel says it is tracking over 600 designs based on the Ivy Bridge chips.

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