Intel Launching Next-Generation 'Ivy Bridge' Chips Today - Mashable

intel-tri-gate-600Intel is officially launching on Monday its next-generation chip technology, codenamed Ivy Bridge. The new chips will be available for regular laptops and desktops immediately, although versions for the thinner Ultrabook designs will take a few more weeks.

For Intel, Ivy Bridge represents more than just the regular generational shrinking of transistors to increase chip performance. Besides taking the company’s chip design to the 22-nanometer level (the distance between individual transistors), the new processors are the first to use a technology called Tri-Gate.

Tri-Gate changes the game somewhat for chip design. While the silicon in computer chips has thus far been designed to be flat, Tri-Gate is the first design to use depth, which is why the design is often referred to as “3D.” The design lets the transistor run at lower voltages, which both saves power and improves performance. The video below explains further.

Although Intel has been talking about the tech for about a year, those improvements are finally about to be realized in machines people can actually buy. The initial release of the new designs will revamp Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors, the BBC reports, and it includes 13 separate quad-core processors.

“This is Intel’s fastest ramp ever,” Intel PC business chief Kirk Skaugen told the BBC. “This is the world’s first 22 nanometre product and we’ll be delivering about 20% more processor performance using 20% less average power.”

Skaugen says Intel’s various partners have more than 300 mobile products and 270 desktop designs in the works for Ivy Bridge.

Besides simple raw processing power, the Ivy Bridge chips also have the benefit of an integrated GPU (graphics processing unit). That makes Ivy Bridge machines ideally suited to take on pro-video tasks like editing the new ultra-high-resolution 4K format. For everyday consumers, tasks like compressing videos for email should happen much faster.

Are you planning to buy an Ivy Bridge machine this year? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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The skinny:

Claiming to be the "world's thinnest" Ultrabook, the Acer Aspire S5 measures just 0.68 inches at its thickest point and weighs just 3 pounds. It has a 13.3-inch screen.

Interesting feature:

Besides its ├╝berthinness, the S5 also boasts next-generation connectivity with a Thunderbolt port, with provides a high-speed connection to peripherals. Acer's Always Connect tech keeps the machine logged into services when it goes to sleep, and you can wake it up via smartphone.

Potential roadblock:

The price, which is currently unknown.

Bottom line:

The Aspire S5's thickness certainly comes in well under Intel's guidelines. If it can perform the same trick with the price, Acer will have scored a home run.

The skinny:

Dell's first-ever Ultrabook, the XPS 13, clocks in at just 0.71 inches thick and 2.99 pounds. The 13-inch screen is protected by Corning's durable Gorilla Glass.

Interesting feature:

In addition to the 128GB or 256GB hard-disk options, users get 100GB of free cloud storage through Dell DataSafe for cloud backup.

Potential roadblock:

The battery, while rated for more than 8 hours of use, isn't user-replaceable.

Bottom line:

The Dell XPS 13, priced at $999, is a solid Ultrabook, and it throws in some nice freebies, like the cloud storage and a year of Skype Premium. You could do a lot worse.

The skinny:

The HP Envy 14 Spectre is actually not so skinny -- it's a full 0.78 inches thick, and it weighs 3.79 pounds, making it the bulkiest Ultrabook we've seen. However, it also has the some of the most novel design features, like a 14-inch screen, a sleek glass back and extra wireless technology.

Interesting feature:

Near-field communication (NFC) is built into the HP Spectre, letting you share things like maps directly from your NFC-equipped phone just by tapping. It'll also eventually let you do things like transfer payment information instantaneously between devices, making the Spectre a little more future-proof than other Ultrabooks.

Potential roadblock:

Other than its size, which arguably disqualifies the Spectre as an Ultrabook, it costs a hefty $1,400.

Bottom line:

This might be the most tricked-out Ultrabook so far, but if you want the ultimate in thin and light, the Spectre definitely isn't it.

The skinny:

At just 0.64 of an inch thick at its thickest point and 2.5 pounds, the 13-inch Samsung Series 9 gives the Acer Aspire S5 a challenge to its claim of being the world's thinnest Ultrabook.

Interesting feature:

The HD+ SuperBright Plus screen is said to be up to 180 percent brighter than other laptops, which should help in bright sunlight along with the anti-reflective coating.

Potential roadblock:

The price, which is $1,399.

Bottom line:

The display on any machine that you look at for hours matters a lot, but is it worth the premium?

The skinny:

Samsung's Series 5 Ultra laptops aim to give great performance at a good price, though with compromises. The 13.3-inch version weighs 3.24 pounds and measures 0.58 of an inch thick. The 14.4-inch model is 3.9 pounds and 0.82 of an inch thick.

Interesting feature:

The 14-inch Samsung Series 5 sports an optical disc drive, typically forbidden on Ultrabooks. Both machines also have a 500GB hard disk for storage, also normally an Ultrabook no-no, but they still work fast thanks to a 16GB SSD cache.

Potential roadblock:

Optical storage? Hard disk? Almost 4 pounds? How are these Ultrabooks?

Bottom line:

The price is right in Samsung's Series 5 -- $950 and $900 for the 14- and 13-inch models, respectively -- but you won't feel like you have a laptop from the future with these. At least you can sub in an SSD for the smaller version for a total price of $1,100.

The skinny:

The Lenovo Yoga gets its name from its dual-hinge system that lets the screen flip all the way around so the device resembles a tablet. It also allows for a thinner design, Leonvo says, measuring 0.67 inch thick and weighing 3.1 pounds.

Interesting feature:

The hinged design and 13.1-inch touchscreen, which effectively lets the Yoga become a tablet or a stand-up screen. The keyboard automatically shuts off when the screen is folded past 180°, so no worries about accidental button presses.

Potential roadblock:

The Yoga won't be available until Windows 8 is in general release. Will it be obsolete by then?

Bottom line:

Lenovo's Yoga Ultrabook offers an exciting design and a decent price ($1,199) -- if and when it ever comes to market.

The skinny:

Lenovo's ThinkPad T430u business Ultrabook is less than 0.8 of an inch thick and weighs under four pounds, putting in the same size class as the HP Spectre (i.e. arguably not an Ultrabook)

Interesting feature:

The starting prices is just $849 -- making it the most affordable Ultrabook we've seen.

Potential roadblock:

With no standout feature, the T430u is clearly aimed solely at business users.

Bottom line:

The Lenovo ThinkPad T430u is pretty much an Ultrabook in name only, and you feel like it's just the smallest laptop Lenovo could build without really trying. The company even says you can substitute the SSD for a hard disk, which Ultrabooks aren't supposed to do. But if you're a business, it's not like you care about labels.

The skinny:

LG's pair of Super Ultrabooks are respectably compact, with the 13.3-inch Z330 measuring just 0.58 of an inch thick and weighing 2.6 pounds, while the 14-inch Z430 is 0.78 of an inch thick and 3.3 pounds.

Interesting feature:

Both machines are equipped with LG’s proprietary Super Speed Boot technology, which is said to be "roughly three times faster" than other 13-inch notebooks in the market. The Z430, however, also has a combined HDD/SSD drive, which LG says can still boot in 12 seconds and boasts a storage capacity of up to 500GB.

Potential roadblock:

The price, currently not announced.

Bottom line:

LG isn't know for making laptops in the U.S., and it's up in the air whether the machines will ever end up here (LG just says they're launching "worldwide" in the first quarter). If the price is right, they appear to be solid machines.

The skinny:

The Nikiski is a concept Ultrabook that Intel showed off at its press conference at CES. Not a real product, it's intended to show off just what the platform can do. There are no specs posted on the device, but from our brief hands-on with it, it's definitely light and thin.

Interesting feature:

What looks like a big hole below the keyboard is actually a transparent touchpad. It works like a normal one when the laptop's open, but when you fold it up the fun begins: The custom Windows 8 build shows through the screen, which lets the user check out things like calendar appointments and emails, and even run some apps, with the laptop closed.

Potential roadblock:

It's not a real product.

Bottom line:

While the Nikiski has about zero chance of going into production, its clever execution could inspire some daring manufacturers to take some risks once Intel's Ivy Bridge chips and Windows 8 arrive. Asus, are you listening?