Intel Launches Quad-Core Ivy Bridge Chips for High-End PCs

Intel is launching the first wave of its new Ivy Bridge processors, a collection of quad-core chips aimed at the desktop and high-end laptop markets. More versions of the 22-nanometer chips, including dual-core processors and offerings for the Ultrabook market, will begin arriving later this spring, according to company officials.

The Ivy Bridge chips, which Intel executives have been touting for months and finally released April 23, are expected to offer better performance and graphics capabilities while driving down power consumption, due in large part of the introduction of the company s three-dimensional Tri-Gate transistor architecture. The Tri-Gate architecture essentially moves away from the flat "planar" circuitry of previous designs and to a three-dimensional structure that enables Intel to offer better performance and power efficiency.

Intel reportedly initially is releasing 13 quad-core processors, with dual-core and other versions coming later.

In an interview with the BBC, Kirk Skaugen, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group, said there are more than 300 mobile products in development that will leverage the Ivy Bridge chips, as well as more than 270 desktops that will make their way to the market, many of which are the increasingly popular all-in-one systems.

"The momentum around the system design is pretty astonishing," Skaugen said. "This is the world’s first 22-nanometer product, and we’ll be delivering about 20 percent more processor performance using 20 percent less average power."

In addition, Intel is ensuring there will be no issues around production or availability of the new chips, dubbed the third generation of Core processors. The giant chip maker has built three factories outfitted to build the Ivy Bridge processors, with a fourth one due to come online late this year. Skaugen calls the Ivy Bridge effort the company’s fastest ramp ever.

"There will be 50 percent more supply than we had early in the product cycle of our last generation, Sandy Bridge, a year ago,” he said. “And we’re still constrained based on the amount of demand we’re seeing in the marketplace."

Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, said Ivy Bridge and the Tri-Gate architecture are highlighting Intel’s strong leadership in both technology and manufacturing that rivals will have trouble matching. While some chip manufacturers, like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, are making 28nm chips, they’re having problems supplying their customers. For example, Qualcomm officials this month spoke of problems producing enough 28nm chips. In addition, Advanced Micro Devices has had supply problems with manufacturer Globalfoundries, Gold said in an April 23 research note.

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