As expected, Intel is introducing its first 3rd generation Core family processors today. The first crop of the new “Ivy Bridge” chips will be high performance quad-core processors, and the BBC reports most of the 13 new processors coming today will be destined for desktop computers.
Some of the chips will arrive in high performance notebooks such as the new Sony Vaio E 14P. But we won’t see dual core processors for ultrabooks until later this spring.
Today’s launch is still interesting since it shows where Intel is going. The company’s latest processors aren’t just more powerful than the ones that came before. They also use less power.
Ivy Bridge chips are built using a 22nm process which helps improve efficiency, and a new “tri-gate” design. On average, Intel says the new chips will offer 20 percent better performance than earlier chips while using 20 percent less power.
That’s a nice update for desktop PC users concerned about heat generation and overall power consumption. But it’s crucial in the mobile space as Intel faces growing competition from low power ARM-based processors.
For now even the slowest Intel x86 chips blow the fastest ARM-based chips out of the water in general number crunching duties. But ARM chips use just a tiny fraction of the power consumed by most x86 chips and are plenty fast enough to power smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS. This lets device makers build tablets and other devices that offer 10 hours of battery life or more while weighing less than 1.5 pounds.
While this year’s Ivy Bridge processors will be aimed primarily at desktop and notebook computers, Intel is also working on low power Atom chips for tablets and smartphones.
We’ll also start seeing Windows 8 devices with ARM-based processors later this year. While they won’t be able to do everything that a Windows 8 tablet or laptop with an x86 processor can, device makers will have a choice of using ARM or Intel chips in Windows 8 tablets and Intel is going to need to show it can compete in the low price, low power space.
The company’s upcoming chips for ultrabooks also need to be good enough to convince shoppers this fall and summer to choose a thin and light laptop over a tablet.