Intel's first Ivy Bridge chips will be high-end quad-core parts

Many had expected the first chips to be for ultrabooks, but Intel will aim higher with Ivy Bridge to start

Intel said on Tuesday that it would announce its first Core processors based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture next week, and the first chips won't be for ultrabooks, but will be quad-core parts for high-end desktops and laptops.

There will be a second launch of Core chips later this year in which dual-core Ivy Bridge processors will be launched for mainstream laptops, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during an earnings call.

PCs with the new quad-core chips will be announced shortly after the chip launch, Otellini said.

Otellini did not say when specific Ivy Bridge chips for ultrabooks would be released. However, several ultrabook models with Ivy Bridge processors have already been announced, and some models are due to ship in the coming months.

Many PCs shipping today have second-generation Core processors code-named Sandy Bridge. Intel has said it will launch the third-generation Core processors based on Ivy Bridge next week, but until now it had not specified which chips would be announced.

There is a strong demand for desktops, especially in emerging markets, Otellini said. The company had to delay the Ivy Bridge launch by a few weeks to ensure it had enough inventory for the PC launches.

Intel already has a range of Sandy Bridge quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 chips for desktops. Many of those chips are targeted at gamers, who can overclock the processor to boost desktop performance.

The new Ivy Bridge chips will outperform predecessors, Intel has said. The chips will include 3D transistors and will be made using the new 22-nanometer manufacturing process. Intel has claimed that 22-nm 3D transistors will consume a little less than half the power and be 37 percent faster than Intel's existing 32-nm process chips, which have 2D transistors.

Technology site Anandtech has clocked a 5 percent to 15 percent CPU performance improvement with Ivy Bridge compared to Sandy Bridge.

The demand for PCs has been depressed due to hard-drive shortages, which ultimately hurt processor shipment, Otellini said. But PC shipments could rebound as the hard-drive situation normalizes and after Microsoft releases its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft has not provided a release date for Windows 8.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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