Intel to produce new Sandy Bridge chips by year-end

Intel will make Sandy Bridge desktop and laptop processors first

The latest family of Intel microprocessors, code-named Sandy Bridge, will be in production by the end of this year, while desktops and laptops with the chips will likely be on world markets in early 2011.

The initial versions of the chips will be for desktop and laptop computers, not servers, said David Perlmutter, head of Intel's chip architecture group, in an interview at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing on Tuesday. He said actual products with the chips inside usually come out a few months after the chips ship, but he declined to set a specific time for laptops or other devices with Sandy Bridge microprocessors to hit markets.

The new microprocessor family is built using the second generation of Intel's High-K metal gate 32-nanometer production technology. Sandy Bridge includes processing cores, a memory controller, cache subsystem and Intel's sixth-generation graphics processing core all on one chip.

The chips will be the first to include Intel's Advanced Vector Extension instructions, a technology aimed at intensive computing which makes video, image and audio processing speedier with improved color and image clarity. They will also include Intel AES New Instructions (AES-NI), software instructions that accelerate data encryption and decryption.

Sandy Bridge microprocessors will replace Intel's previous generation chips, Nehalem processors, which were the first Intel chips to use High-K metal gate technology. Around 400 million 45nm Nehalem processors have shipped to date, Perlmutter said during a speech at IDF.

The nanometer measurement describes the size of transistors and other parts on a chip. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, about the size of a few atoms combined. Advances in chip-making technology, including shrinking transistors and other parts, are important to improve chip performance, reduce power consumption and lower costs.

Intel is expected to start producing a new line of microprocessors, code-named Ivy Bridge, near the end of next year using 22nm technology.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel's biggest rival in the microprocessor business, will start shipping its new Fusion chips for desktop and laptop PCs around the same time Sandy Bridge chips enter the market. AMD's new chips combine graphics chips and a general-purpose CPU on the same piece of silicon, which AMD says will make them speedier and more power-efficient. The chips will be manufactured using 32nm technology.

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, shipped 80.5 percent of the world's PC microprocessors in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to 19.4 percent for AMD, according to market researcher IDC.

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