It's no secret that Intel is launching its third-generation Core microprocessors in the next few months. Known to the enthusiast as Ivy Bridge, the chips have been subject to delays.
While there may be confusion as to when the chips do actually launch, Intel has seemingly finalised the line up. Looking at the evidence shown on these two Intel slides, the third-generation Core processors appear to be drop-in upgrades over present Sandy Bridge.
If we look at the Core-i7 line up, which represents Intel's best processors, Ivy Bridge provides a direct replacement to Sandy Bridge.
Do remember, that Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge share the same socket; LGA 1155. Intel, clearly, is mirroring its current line up with the 3700-series Ivy Bridge parts. Each chip has four cores and eight threads, Turbo Boosts by up to four steps and has 8MB of cache. The one change we can pick out from the slide is the upgrade to IGP graphics, now referenced as Intel HD 4000.
Expectations are that equivalent Ivy Bridge chips will come in at exactly the same price points as present Sandy Bridge.
The meat of the Ivy Bridge desktop line, however, will be comprised of Core i5 chips. These four-thread mainstream CPUs also look to mirror what's on offer from Sandy Bridge.
Really, what's changed here, from what we can tell, is Intel migrating existing technology onto a smaller, more-efficient manufacturing process - in this case, 22nm. This should lead to lower TDPs and more potential performance from both the CPU and GPU portions of the chip. We already know that Sandy Bridge CPUs are excellent performers, so Ivy Bridge looks set to be more evolution than revolution, which is no bad thing.
A number of high-profile motherboard manufacturers have already certified six-series chipsets to support Ivy Bridge processors. That said, Intel is also going to release a specific chipset to support all of the yet-to-be-revealed Ivy Bridge feature set. Expect to see the Z77 land just before Easter, if reports are to be believed.
So, dear readers, do any of the above look tasty as a drop-in upgrade? We think the Core i5-3570K looks lush, particularly if it ships with the rumoured 77W TDP.