After months of talking about its features, Intel officially launches its new Ivy Bridge processor today. As we previously reported, this processor is undoubtedly headed to the next line of Macs, and it will help provide some significant feature updates. The processor is a 22-nanometer 3D transistor chip that will be more efficient than the bigger Sandy Bridge processors it replaces. It is initially available in 13 quad-core models in both the i5 and i7 versions. According to Intel, lower-end i3 and i5 models will launch later this spring.

One big aspect to note is that the Ivy Bridge also features on-chip USB 3.0 – a technology Apple is long-rumored to adopt. While may Apple not choose to take that route, the likelihood of it using the now built-in USB 3.0 tech has grown exponentially.

Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group Kirk Skaugen told the crowd at the Intel Developer Forum earlier this month that the Ivy Bridge Processor is built for Retina display computers, “if OEMs choose to use it.” This is especially interesting, because Apple is rumored to include a Retina-like display thanks to a slue of hints in the developer preview of Mountain Lion. Retina would be a game changer on the displays of Apple’s Pro/Air. Intel’s new 4000 chipset supports up to 4K resolutions natively, and it supports improved audio and security functions that Apple may or may not choose to take advantage of.

With the official launch of the Ivy Bridge processor, the launch of new Macs does not seem to be that far off. The new processor will most likely be found throughout the Mac line, including the MacBook Air, iMac, Mini, and MacBook Pro.

In a recent 9to5mac poll, 76 percent of you indicated you are waiting for Apple to release updated Macs to make a purchase. Does that include you?

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