Intel’s Ivy Bridge: What You Need to Know

"Ivy Bridge." The name sounds harmless, almost inconsequential. But behind the quaint moniker lies power and plenty of it.

Ivy Bridge is the code name for Intel's upcoming microprocessor architecture, a new version of the current CPU, called Sandy Bridge. It is due out in 2012.

The key difference: Sandy Bridge uses a 32 nm process (the 32 nm measurement refers to the smallest size of a component within each chip) on its die. Ivy Bridge shrinks that down to 22 nm, the smallest component size to date.

The shrinking process primarily allows chips to be produced using a smaller die, which means a microchip with the same features will take up less physical space and use less power than its predecessor. This will in turn allow smaller computers to be built, so laptops running Ivy Bridge should be lighter, thinner, and feature longer battery lives. Shrinking CPU dies generally leads to faster performance, too: Based on the die shrink alone, Ivy Bridge should offer a 20 percent performance boost on most applications.

But Ivy Bridge won't just bring us those basics, as Intel is pumping it up with new technologies that include:

  • A new version of Intel's integrated HD Graphics system, with support for all the latest video technologies and significantly improved video and gaming performance.
  • Support for PCI Express 3.0, the latest version of the bus that connects your computer's other components to the CPU.
  • Intel's Quick Sync Video, which will put video encoding and decoding right on the chip instead of having to route it through a software application.

What's all that mean? Better laptops, of course, if you can handle the wait!

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