Intel used the 2010 Intel Developer Forum to unveil the Second Generation Intel Core Processor--codenamed "Sandy Bridge". The new line of processors provides Intel with a more powerful arsenal that can potentially run mobile devices and compete with the dominant ARM architecture.
The new Intel chips will replace the current Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 lines, and are expected to start showing up in desktop and laptop systems by the first half of 2011. The new processors merge the core processing and graphics processing together to deliver significantly better performance while also running cooler and reducing power consumption.
A statement from Intel explains, "The processor family will include a new "ring" architecture that allows the built-in processor graphics engine to share resources such as cache, or a memory reservoir, with the processor's core to increase a device's computing and graphics performance while maintaining energy efficiency."
Intel states, "Intel's new processor graphics delivers enhanced visual features focused on the areas where most users are computing today: HD video, 3-D, mainstream gaming, multi-tasking and online socializing and multimedia."
Mainstream gaming has little value in a business context (although an hour a day of Halo:Reach could be construed as both team building and stress relief), but a processor architecture that is able to deliver better and/or faster 3D rendering, HD video output, and multimedia experiences can help users operate more efficiently, and expand the horizons of what the computer is capable of.
Intel designed the Sandy Bridge processor line with notebooks in mind. Mobile devices are surpassing desktop PCs as the de facto computing platform and Intel wants to deliver improved performance, while also extending battery life in increasingly smaller form factors. These processors are not intended for smartphones or tablets, but Intel can build on the engineering involved to develop processors to compete with chips like the 2.5 Ghz quad-core Cortex A15 recently announced by ARM.
While not expected until the second half of 2011, Intel revealed its next-generation server architecture as well. "Intel also demonstrated a dual processor, next-generation Intel Xeon processor server running Vidyo video conferencing software that utilizes the 32 threads available on the system, and takes advantage of the AES New Instructions set (AESNI)."
The innovative ring architecture used to optimize performance of the computing and graphics processing, combined with even faster TurboBoost capabilities, and reduced power consumption make the Sandy Bridge processors ideal for notebooks and netbooks. Mobile users will appreciate the capabilities of these next-generation processors, and look forward to what smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices may have to offer in the near future.