Having turned its most profitable quarter, Intel is banking on its vast lineup of the 2010 Core processors, which will be updated towards the end of the year. By 2011, Intel will have a new series of second generation Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors, based on a brand new architecture, and built for new sockets and chipsets. A roadmap of the same reached sections of the European media, which shows the company to be almost ready with a full-fledged lineup of desktop processors covering most price-points, by 2011.
The new architecture on which these processors are based is referred to by Intel as "Sandy Bridge", key features of which include the inclusion of the new Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), a more advanced instruction set than SSE, to accelerate complex applications. AVX aside, there's Turbo Boost technology 2.0 that comes with even smarter algorithms to automatically manage clock speeds of individual processor cores to maximize performance within the processor's TDP envelope, AES-NI, which is a more manageable hardware data encryption instruction set, and processors with integrated graphics (IGP) controllers will have even faster ones, because Intel will be relocating the IGP and memory controller to the same die as the processor cores, this IGP is referred to as Intel "GT2" graphics.
Package and Platform
The new processors in Intel's lineup are built on the new 1,155-pin LGA package (LGA1155), and almost every motherboard manufacturer has already displayed consumer motherboards based on the upcoming Intel P67 "Cougar Point" chipset, at this year's Computex event held in Taipei.
Nomenclature and Positioning
Intel's 2011 lineup of Core processors will use the same brand identifiers as the 2010 series: Core i7 delivers all the features and quantitative performance available to the generation, Core i5 delivers "smart performance" by balancing "smart" features (such as Turbo Boost 2.0) to manage performance and energy-efficiency, with mid-thru-high levels of quantitative performance, while Core i3 delivers the essentials, and captures the value segment.
While the 2010 series three-digit processor model numbers starting with 5xx for Core i3 dual-core, 6xx for Core i5 dual-core, 7xx for Core i5 quad-core, 8xx for Core i7 LGA1156 quad-core, and 9xx for Core i7 LGA1366 quad-core and six-core processors, the 2010 series will use a four-digit processor number scheme:
- 21xx - Core i3 dual-core
- 23xx - Core i5 dual-core
- 24xx - Core i5 quad-core
- 25xx - Core i5 quad-core
- 27xx - Core i7 quad-core
Among these, there are a few number suffixes that denote some special features:
- K - Overclockers' favourite, has unlocked BClk multipler
- S - Energy efficient, quad-core S chips have TDP of 65W against 95W, while having comparable clock speeds
- T - Low-power, have relatively lower clock-speeds, quad-core chips have TDP of 35W
- M - Mobile processors
- QM - Quad-core mobile
- XM - Extreme Performance mobile
There are essentially three kinds of dies Intel engineered, and carved out a horde of SKUs. A dual-core die that has a truly integrated memory controller (compared to present Core i3/i5 dual-core chips where IMC isn't on the same die as the processor cores), an IGP, and 3 MB of L3 cache; a quad-core die with integrated memory controller and 6 MB of L3 cache; and a high-end quad-core die with integrated memory controller and 8 MB of L3 cache.
As given in the table below. At this point we're not entirely sure what differentiates Core i5 24xx from Core i5 25xx, frequencies don't seem to be it. Perhaps there's an instruction set or a feature that's enabled on the 25xx.
There has got to be a reason why every motherboard maker had an LGA1155 motherboard ready for display as early as in June 2010, especially 7 months ahead of CES 2011 (it's typically held in early January), and the only possibility that makes sense is that Intel could start releasing these processors very early in 2011, or even towards the end of 2010. As far as pricing goes, one can expect them to be on par with 2010 Core processors.