Intel tracks 500 design wins for Sandy Bridge chips

New family of processors, to be showed off at CES 2011, includes dozens of new chips

The world's largest chip maker will show off its most advanced line of microprocessors ever at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday, complete with a range of laptop and desktop PCs with the chips inside.

The new family of processors, which will lose their Sandy Bridge codename, includes dozens of new chips, according to Uday Marty, director of basic mobility platforms at Intel, during a briefing in Taipei ahead of CES.

The new processor family is the second generation to take on the 'Core' processor name. Four of them will be Core i3 chips, while 12 will be Core i5 chips and another dozen will be Core i7 chips.

A number of Intel partners will show off their latest laptops and desktops with the new processors inside this week at CES.

"We're already tracking 500 design wins," including notebooks and desktops, Marty said.

The company boasts of far better power efficiency and graphics performance in the new line of chips, as well as added support for wireless technologies. The processors have been so popular among device makers that many are predicting the chips will prod corporations to step up their PC purchases.

In November, Michael Dell said Sandy Bridge could strengthen the corporate refresh cycle, which gained steam after the release of Microsoft's Windows 7 in 2009. A lot of Dell's customers are waiting for Sandy Bridge chips as an "entry point" to start the refresh cycle, he said.

"It will excite the consumer base as well with the integrated graphics performance and some of the new capabilities there," Dell said.

The new Intel chips put a graphics processor, microprocessor and memory controller on a single chip (a monolithic chip). Intel's Marty predicts that people who play casual or mainstream computer games won't even see the need for a separate graphics card, since the graphics cores on the new chips are so good.

Gaming enthusiasts should note that any third party graphics card used with a Core processor needs to have switching capability to make use of the more powerful graphics processors on the graphics card.

Hewlett-Packard, the biggest PC vendor, said the new Intel processors are significantly faster in applications, delivering a 40% performance improvement compared to the older Intel Core 2 Duo chips released in 2009, according to Greg Morris, product manager of HP business desktops.

In overall graphics performance, HP gauged a 70% improvement in integrated graphics.

The graphics core in the new chips also helps save power, another focus of Intel's processor development efforts. The graphics core shares the workload with the processing core, saving energy by using only what is needed at the moment.

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