The Ivy Bridge chips will be the first to use tri-gate, also called 3D, transistors, which will be up to 37 percent faster and consume less than half the power of 2D transistors on current chips. Transistors will be stacked on top of each other much like skyscrapers, rather than being placed next to each other as on current chips. The chips will be made using the 22-nm process, while current Sandy Bridge microprocessors are made using the 32-nm process.
The tri-gate breakthrough allows more features to be added to chips by placing transistors vertically or horizontally, Intel's Varghese said.
"There is a lot of goodness that comes with the tri-gate, but also a lot of challenges," said Varghese. "For example tri-gate has some restrictions on the kind of sizes you can use in terms of how devices snap to a certain grid."
Varghese also highlighted on-chip enhancements that could bring multimedia enhancements to Windows PCs. Ivy Bridge will be Intel's first chip to support DirectX 11, a set of Microsoft tools to accelerate graphics tasks and bring a more realistic gaming experiences to PCs. Advanced Micro Devices already offers on-chip DirectX 11 support with its current Fusion processors, which also combine the CPU and graphics processor on a single chip.
Ivy Bridge is also backward compatible with previous Sandy Bridge sockets, which will help PC makers launch products faster. The chip will also have integrated support for the Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interconnect technologies.
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