13 Quad-Core Intel Ivy Bridge Chips Expected

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Intel's new Ivy Bridge chips are expected Monday, promising significant improvements in speed and power usage plus built-in USB 3.0 support all wrapped in a smaller package compared to Intel's current Sandy Bridge chips.

The first wave of Ivy Bridge chips will reportedly include 13 quad-core processors designed primarily for desktops. Dual-core processors meant for Ultrabooks, such as Intel's Cove Point concept device, and other hardware will roll out "later this spring," according to a BBC report.

(See Related: PCWorld Lab Tests Ivy Bridge: Intel's Ivy Bridge Processor: Leaner and Meaner)

Tri-gate Transistors

The BBC forecast is in line with Intel announcements such as one last Wednesday that the first round of Ivy Bridge chips aren't for Ultrabooks. The new chips are also the first to use Intel's new 22-nanometer manufacturing process as opposed to Sandy Bridge's bulkier 32nm design. To give you an idea of how small 22nm ,is Intel says you could fit 100 million 22-nanometer transistors on the head of a pin (about 0.05 inches in diameter).

Ivy Bridge transistors are also different from those on previous chips thanks to Intel's new tri-gate technology. Instead of cramming flat, two-dimensional transistors onto each processor, Ivy Bridge chips have 3D transistors that use a small fin rising up from the silicon surface. Intel previously said the new transistors will allow its chips to be up to 37 percent faster than previous processors. However, the BBC quotes Intel Vice President Kirk Saugen claiming the first round of Ivy Bridge chips will improve performance and power efficiency by 20 percent compared to Sandy Bridge.

Intel's hardware partners are reportedly working on more than 300 mobile products, according to Saugen, and more than 270 different desktop devices (including many all-in-ones) using Intel's Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. That may be good news for Mac ,fans who are hoping to see new Ivy Bridge chips in upcoming all-in-one iMacs since the new processors may not be coming to MacBooks right away. Servers packed with Ivy Bridge-based Xeon chips are also expected before the summer. Details about upcoming Windows desktops packed with Ivy Bridge processors could come Monday or later in the week.

Intel's Ivy Bridge launch in late April comes after reports that a manufacturing delay would set the launch back to as late as June.

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