updated 06:30 pm EDT, Sat August 14, 2010
Intel plans major Sandy Bridge intro, 600GB SSDs
Intel's Sandy Bridge processors and future SSDs have been revealed in a set of major roadmap leaks. The processor info obtained by MacBidouille shows 19 desktop and notebook processors shipping in early 2011. Among the desktops, many details leaked earlier have been confirmed and range from a new, very low-power 35W 2.5GHz dual Core i3 to a primarily quad-core line that starts with a low-power 65W 2.5GHZ Core i5 S and scales up to a 3.4GHz Core i7 that reaches 3.8GHz with Turbo Boost.
Low power models will be much more common in the new cycle and would include a 2.3GHz, quad Core i5 at 45W.
The notebook processors are new but appear to be largely mild upgrades in raw clock speed versus current-generation mobile chips. Dual-core chips will clock at 2.5GHz, 2.6GHz and 2.7 GHz for two Core i5 and one Core i7 model respectively. Quad-core versions will still be too power-hungry for anything but desktop replacement notebooks but will start at much higher base speeds of 2.2GHz, 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz compared to the top 2.13GHz today.
All Sandy Bridge chips should have new desktop chipsets as well as faster integrated video and a new set of media instructions known as AVX.
The SSD details for fall 2010 largely back those promised earlier by Intel itself. Improvements to Intel's 34nm flash memory techniques will see budget X25-E drives up to 400GB and mainstream X25-M drives at a new peak of 600GB. Smaller 1.8-inch X18-M drives will crest at 160GB and boot-focused X25-V drives will stop at 80GB. A new PCI Express-based SSD codenamed Soda Creek will debut at the same time and will also peak at 80GB.
Most major PC builders should use some or all of Intel's processor lineup. For Apple, the updates will allow faster Core i3, i5 and i7 iMacs as well as upgrades to the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros. The fate of the Mac mini, plastic MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro is less certain, as NVIDIA's ongoing licensing dispute with Intel may force Apple to either keep using upgraded Core 2 Duos or else to drop the GeForce 320M for much slower Intel video.