List surfaces of Intel chips destined for ultrabooks, MacBooks

Details of Intel's next-gen Ivy Bridge mobile processor lineup have leaked. Wondering what's inside a future MacBook or ultrabook? Read on.

An Inventec ultrabook that houses an Ivy Bridge processor.
An Inventec ultrabook that houses an Ivy Bridge processor. Brooke Crothers

Don't run out and buy that new ultrabook or MacBook yet. Not until you look at the deets on Next-gen Intel mobile processors, which were just leaked.

Dubbed Ivy Bridge, these chips are due in the April-May time frame and pack Intel's first 3D transistors built on its world-leading 22-nanometer process technology.

By, let's say, the end of 2012 virtually all new MacBooks and ultrabooks will house Ivy Bridge processors. Not to mention the larger Windows (by then, let's hope that's Windows 8) mainstream and gaming laptop varieties.

Intel's Ivy Bridge mobile processors will populate virtually all future MacBooks and ultrabooks
Intel's Ivy Bridge mobile processors will populate virtually all future MacBooks and ultrabooks CPU World via VR-Zone

A couple of model numbers of interest are the Core i5-3427U and Core i7-3720QM from the list that first appeared at VR-Zone. The 3427U--or a very close cousin--is likely destined for scads of ultrabooks and MacBook Airs because it's rated at 17 watts, Intel's most power-efficient mainstream rating.

Remember, this is a chip that houses a central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), and memory controller, among other features. Intel power-efficient processors of the past had similar wattage ratings but were far less integrated and packed far fewer transistors.

The Core i7-3720QM looks intriguing too because this quad-core design will find its way into plenty of higher-end mainstream laptops. It also maintains a relatively efficient power rating of 45 watts.

Like current Sandy Bridge processors, Ivy Bridge is more akin to a system-on-a-chip than traditional Intel processors because it integrates the CPU, GPU, and other functions onto one piece of silicon. What makes Ivy Bridge different is its graphics engine, which Intel claims will be 60 percent faster than Sandy Bridge.

While that's maybe not an important metric for gamers (who rely on additional, faster GPUs from Advanced Micro Devices or Nvidia), it's going to be very important to consumers snapping up ultrabooks and many mainstream consumer laptops because, in most cases, there will not be an option for an extra internal GPU.

And MacBooks? There is a rumor goin' round that that Apple will switch back to Nvidia GPUs for future MacBooks (Nvidia GPUs had been in earlier generations of the MacBook Air). Let's say, for argument's sake, that Apple did switch back to Nvidia. It's possible that Nvidia goes into the larger MacBook Air-like designs (e.g., rumored 15-inch) while Apple continues to rely solely on Intel graphics for the smaller Airs.

More discussion here at CPU World.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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