Intel’s Sandy Bridge chips, which are ticking inside 2011 MacBook Pro and iMac computers, are all the rage in the chips business at the moment. However, the pundits are already watching closely a next-generation Sandy Bridge successor code-named Ivy Bridge. Intel originally planned on bringing first Ivy Bridge chips in late 2011, with volume manufacturing set to begin early in the first quarter of 2012. Those plans have been pushed back a bit, we learned this morning.

Multiple news outlets are pointing to a leaked Intel roadmap slide which puts Ivy Bridge chips in the late Q1-Q2 2011 timeframe, indicating a March or April 2012 release at the earnest. Since Apple usually enjoys a preferential treatment from its buddy Intel, this probably means no Ivy Bridge-based iMacs and MacBooks for you for at least ten months, possibly even a full year. What’s in store for Ivy Bridge-powered Macs, you ask…

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From what we know so far, the Ivy Bridge platform is basically Sandy Bridge on steroids. Fabbed on Intel’s 22-nanometer manufacturing process, the Ivy Bridge chips will be the first in the world to utilize Intel’s latest tri-gate transistor technology. We know from Intel’s press release that tri-gate transistors enable a 37 percent jump in processing speeds with low voltage requirements. For example, tri-gate transistors require less than half the power when at the same performance compared to 2D planar transistors fabbed on the 32-nanometer process. The effects in real-world, as always, will be somewhat less substantial. As a rule of thumb, expect around 20 percent faster performance in everyday applications on Ivy Bridge systems compared to today’s 2011 Sandy Bridge family. In terms of graphics, a third zippier performance is to be expected, stemming from a new graphics core with DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1 support. Lastly, the Ivy Bridge platform will sport PCI Express 3.0 x16 interconnection, PCIe 2.0 x4 controller and enable cool stuff like support for three independent displays and USB 3.0.

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