Just as expected, Intel launched its first crop of quad-core Ivy Bridge processors today. This is the chip that will replace the company’s Sandy Bridge CPUs in Apple’s next-generation of Macs. They’re the world’s first processors to use a 22-nanometer manufacturing process and feature Intel’s “Tri-Gate” 3D transistor technology.
The first crop consists of 13 different chips, most of which are tailored for desktop PCs, according to BBC News. However, MacRumors notes that several of them are appropriate for Apple’s 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros. Dual-core Ivy Bridge chips tailored to smaller machines, such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air, are expected to be announced “later this spring” — possibly on June 3, according to previous rumors.
The new chips boast 20% more processing performance than their predecessors, while consuming 20% less power. They also use Intel’s new Tri-Gate transistor technology, which has been in development for 11 years. Unlike traditional “2D” transistors, Intel’s Tri-Gate ones are “3D,” which allows transistors to be even smaller while minimizing energy leakage.
Furthermore, Ivy Bridge chips will also deliver significantly greater graphics performance when compared to Sandy Bridge chips, in addition to support for high-resolution Retina display and USB 3.0.
Intel is building more factories to ensure it can produce Ivy Bridge chips faster than ever before. It already has three up and running, while a fourth will come later this year.
“This is Intel’s fastest ramp ever,” [Intel's PC business chief Kirk] Skaugen added.
“There will be 50% more supply than we had early in the product cycle of our last generation, Sandy Bridge, a year ago. And we’re still constrained based on the amount of demand we’re seeing in the marketplace.”
With Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors now on the market, Apple’s MacBook line can receive the much-anticipated refresh we’ve been talking about in recent months. In addition to the new CPU, the notebook is also expected to boast a thinner, lighter form factor much like that of the MacBook Air.
However, according to one analyst, the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air could make way for an all-new notebook that combines the qualities of both machines.