The Sandy Bridge architecture is set to launch some time later this year, and represents a total departure from the incumbent Nehalem design. Built on the same 32nm process as the current-generation Westmere chips, the new CPUs are supposed to bring a significant increase in computing power while markedly lowering power usage and heat output. The chips will also require a brand new socket, LGA 1155, which will not be compatible with the current LGA 1156 processors.
The leak suggests that Intel will stick with the ‘Core iX’ naming scheme that is already in use, with product numbers being in the 2000s. The top-of-the-line model is reported to be called the Core i7 2600 - a four-core, eight-thread processor with 8MB L3 cache, running at 3.2GHz. The Core i5 models will have four physical cores and 6MB L3 cache, but will not support Hyper-Threading. Named the 2400 and 2500, the chips are rumoured to have clock speeds of 3.1GHz and 3.3GHz, respectively. Finally, the Core i3 models feature only two cores, but can handle four threads with Hyper-Threading enabled. L3 cache is reduced to 3MB for the 2100 and 2120 models, which will again be clocked at 3.1GHz and 3.3GHz.
While none of these specs are particularly extraordinary, remember that the Core i7 920, the first Nehalem chip, was only clocked at 2.66GHz. As the new manufacturing process is refined and following a die-shrink to 22nm, we could start to see stock-clock speeds approaching 4GHz for these new chips. Also factor in that we fully expect some of these processors to feature Turbo Boost, to increase the speed of individual cores, depending upon load.
As ever, all of this information should be taken with a pinch of salt until we have official confirmation. However, with Sandy Bridge expected to launch later this year, we shouldn’t have too much wait too longer.