After months of delays, Intel has finally officially launched its latest generation processors, called “Ivy Bridge”. The average PC-buying customer will still see the same Core i3, i5, and i7 branding, but the new 22nm manufacturing process ensures much better performance than the previous Sandy Bridge processors.
At first, Intel is initially focussing on quad core chips for desktops and laptops, but ultra low power dual core laptop processors will be rolling out in Q3 this year. The biggest advancement in these new generation processors is the 20% decrease in power usage, combined with 20% increase in performance, mainly because of the a new 3D-transistor manufacturing process and partly thanks to a much improved on-chip graphics processing unit. The new HD 4000 built in GPU promises much faster on the fly transcoding, and can also comfortably handle 4K video which is currently being used by high end video camera manufacturers like RED. Lower end Ivy Bridge processors will ship with HD 2500 GPU’s but the performance benchmarks have not yet been seen.
Intel is also rolling out native support for USB 3.0 (which means that Apple might finally shift to USB 3 as well), so expect USB 3.0 hard drives to become more mainstream as consumers adopt the technology. Previously USB 3 support came from additional controllers on the motherboard, which meant only mid to higher end machines supported the new high speed transfer interface.
Initial pre-release benchmarks of machines with Ivy Bridge processors confirm the increased speed and more efficient power usage, so if you are planning on upgrading your computer, we recommend you maybe wait a month or two. If you want see the processor lineup, you can see them here.