From desktops and all-in-one systems to notebooks and Ultraportable/ultrathin laptops, Intel's Ivy Bridge platform is leaving its mark everywhere you look. Is it time to say 'So long!' to Sandy Bridge? Not quite. Intel isn't gung-ho to send its Sandy Bridge platform to the CPU stockyard, and instead is planning to launch at least two new mobile chips based on last generation's architecture.
Coming up with new CPU designs isn't quite as easy as coming up with new flavors of ice cream. First, you need to figure out exactly what you want the core to accomplish, along with what critical components are needed to meet that goal. Then, after that's sorted, the process moves to a second stage called "design implementation" -- basically, figuring out how to actually make the CPU the architectural engineers dreamed up. It's a long, laborious procedure, but now North Carolina State University researchers claim they've developed a tool to quickly automate the design implementation process.
For processors, smaller is super, but bigger is better for the wafers the processors are made from. Earlier this week, the Taiwan government gave TSMC -- which manufactures chips for virtually everybody -- permission to build a new $10 billion facility dedicated to creating 450mm-wide wafers, up from the 300mm-wide wafers being developed today. Intel also has plans to move to 450mm wafers. Larger diameter wafers yield more processors, which lowers production costs and makes everybody happy. Just don't expect them to come easy.
Intel and AMD took two completely different approaches when it came to launching their latest and greatest chips: Intel kicked off Ivy Bridge by launching its most powerful desktop units first, while AMD's Trinity APUs first popped up on notebooks. In fact, you still can't find a desktop Trinity chip -- but the company recently confirmed with HardwareCanucks that Trinity is on schedule to ship to component channels some time later this year and a full listing of the desktop APUs are up on the AMD website.
Dell on Tuesday announced the launch of the first Ivy Bridge-powered Vostro business notebooks: the 13-inch Vostro 3360, 14-inch Vostro 3460, and 15-inch Vostro 3560. While the Vostro 3560 is available now on Dell.com, its smaller siblings will be available starting June 21.
Now that Ivy Bridge is here, it's time for Intel to start tearing down Sandy Bridge and directing traffic to its newer architecture. And in fact, that's exactly what the Santa Clara chip maker is reportedly planning to do starting in September, though don't expect Sandy Bridge processors to disappear overnight. Instead, Intel will gradually retire Sandy Bridge while simultaneously pushing its Ivy Bridge platform hot and heavy, especially as the back-to-school season approaches.
Qualcomm on Tuesday unveiled an expanded portfolio for its Snapdragon S4 CPU family, breaking the processors down into four categories of concentration, including S4 Prime (HDTVs and set-top boxes), S4 Pro (Windows RT devices), S4 Plus (smartphones and tablets), and S4 Play (entry level mobile devices). Focusing on the S4 Pro series for a moment, reportedly there are Snapdragon S4-powered laptops running Windows RT already in production.
Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone, which is scheduled to launch in the U.S. later this month, is the newest device to rock Qualcomm's dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, but it surely won't be the last. Qualcomm is eying bigger (literally) and better (arguably) things, likes high definition TVs, tablet PCs, and stationary computing devices running Windows 8. They're all on Qualcomm's radar.
There's a new CPU overclocking record to report and, surprise-surprise (not really), AMD's spunky FX-8150 chip is the one breaking new ground. This time a Taiwanese overclocker who goes by "ksin" was able to push AMD's record setting processor to 8,805MHz (8.8GHz), inching ever closer to the coveted 9GHz mark. It's worth mentioning that these ultra-high frequencies aren't practical because they're not sustainable without a constant dose of LN2, but that's also missing the point.
It hasn't been much of an ARM wrestle in the tablet space up to this point, and it's not because AMD and Intel haven't talked the talk. For the most part, they just haven't walked the walk, which has allowed ARM to dominate the category. That could change once Windows 8 comes into view in a few months, and if Microsoft's upcoming Metro infused OS proves popular on touchscreen tablets, you can expect a dogfight between AMD and Intel.