Intel's Core 2011 Processors Offer a New Level of Power

A Sandy Bridge may not seem like the most sure-footed passage to the next level in processors, but Intel has high hopes for the second generation of core processors known by that code name.

In time for the opening of the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the giant chipmaker has released 15 laptop and 14 desktops CPUs, now formally known as Core 2011 processors. They offer better performance, an integrated graphics processor, greater efficiency -- and a new capability to guard movies.

The chips all utilize the company's 32nm manufacturing process. For mobile devices, there's a new Core i7 Extreme Edition, nine i7s, four i5s, and a new i3. Desktops get three i7s, eight i5s, and three i3s. The high-end processor, the Extreme Edition i7 for laptops, features a 2.5-GHz base clock speed for each of four cores, and a price per thousand of $1,000 each.
'User Visual Experience'

In addition to integrating graphics with the processor, the new chips have the memory controller, PCI Express controller, and video capabilities on the same die as the processor for greater speed and efficiency.

Many of the new chips support multi-threading, there's real-time media format conversion, and the new lineup supports version 2 of the company's Turbo Boost technology, which manages the processor to maximize performance versus power requirements. Also built into the Sandy Bridge line is Intel Wireless Display 2.0, or WiDi, which allows wireless transmission of high-definition video to HDTVs.

The built-in content protection, called Intel Insider, is designed to help Hollywood studios protect streaming, high-definition movies. The boom in online video is a key driver in the capabilities and architecture of the new chips, which deliver what Intel is describing as "the User Visual Experience."

The new chips are expected to be widely available in a vast variety of products, with more than 500 new desktop or laptop PCs expected to contain them. Quad-core laptops are expected from such manufacturers as Hewlett-Packard and Dell early this year.

Overclocking Without Overheating

Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., described the key advantages to users of Intel's new processors as "smaller, faster, better graphics, and lower power consumption." She said businesses and consumers have come to expect "significantly improved performance and graphics" with each new generation of chips.

She described as "particularly compelling" the ability for overclocking a machine, "which can now be done without running the risk of overheating."

As new generations offer substantial performance boosts, a key question is what a typical consumer or business user -- who is not a gamer or a developer -- does with all that power. A key area will be a boost in viewing and working with HD video content, as well as with other kinds of processing-intensive media, such as photos. "Whatever you could do before," DiDio said, "you will now be able to do better, faster, and more efficiently." Read Full Article


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