According to Taiwanese OEMs, April 8 will be the day that you can get your hands on desktop and mobile Ivy Bridge CPUs. These will be the first commercial chips that use a 22nm process, and — perhaps more importantly — the first silicon chips that use 3D tri-gate transistors (FinFET), instead of ye olde MOSFET that every other manufacturer and foundry are still using.
A total of 13 CPUs will be released on or around April 8: Seven desktop chips will be immediately available, all priced between $332 and $184 and targeted at the low- and mid-range market, the fastest being a Core i7-3770K. Six mobile chips spanning the entire price gamut will be available, including a high-end $1100 Core i7-3920Qm. Chipsets for both desktop and mobile will also be released, including the top-end Z77, and H77, Z75, and B75, and their mobile equivalents.
Before you get too excited, though, bear in mind that Ivy Bridge is not a performance update to Sandy Bridge. Where Sandy Bridge was the tock — new architecture — following Westmere, Ivy Bridge is the tick (die shrink) of Intel’s tick-tock release strategy. That doesn’t mean that IB isn’t faster than SB — some leaked benchmarks show a 2-8% gain — but primarily, Ivy Bridge will consume less power. According to Intel, the Core i7-3770k will have a TDP of just 77 watts, down from 95W on the current top-end i7-2700K.
This is obviously big news for the mobile sector where the CPU, along with the display and backlight, make up the bulk of a device’s power consumption. Presumably, with Intel’s 2012 focus being smartphones, ultrabooks, and the success of Medfield, almost everyone at Intel is focusing on reducing power footprints. Laptops might be by far the most dominant PC form factor, but if I can build a desktop PC that’s fast, saves power, and cuts down on CPU core temperature, I’m not going to complain. The other big change, though it probably won’t affect many ExtremeTech readers, is that Ivy Bridge chips will feature a new, slightly-less-awful integrated GPU.
The power savings, incidentally, most likely stem from the use of 3D FinFETs in Ivy Bridge, and other advances in silicon chip fabrication technologies. Medfield will have to wait until 2013 or 14 for its 3D FinFET re-work, but when it eventually happens Intel might even move ahead of ARM-based designsin terms of power consumption.