Intel may be pushing up Ivy Bridge launch to boost next-gen ultrabooks

Intel logoIntel is believed to be pushing up the launch of its first wave of Ivy Bridge processors by one week to April 23. According to sources for DigiTimes, Intel will announce availability of its next-generation 22nm processors on that day in order to pump up demand for new ultrabook models from ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, and HP.

Intel suggested in February that the highly anticipated Ivy Bridge processors, which are built using 3D tri-gate transistors on a new 22nm process, would be delayed until June. However, leaked information about the launch that surfaced just two weeks ago suggested Intel would instead roll out various processors on a staggered release schedule, with some processors becoming available at the end of April. The rest would start shipping in quantity just over a month later in early June.

While DigiTimes isn't the most reliable source of accurate information, the reason for the one-week bump sounds plausible. Intel has made a big push behind its "ultrabook" concept—strikingly similar to Apple's MacBook Air ultra-portable—but many of the first-generation designs were a little disappointing. Ivy Bridge includes configurable TDP for increased power optimization as well as vastly improved integrated graphics, features that should be a boon to ultrabook designs.

Another clue pointing toward an earlier launch is that inventory levels for Apple's 15" MacBook Pro have started to show signs of decreased production. Processors suitable for an Ivy Bridge-based 15" MacBook Pro are among the first wave of Ivy Bridge processors expected to be announced later this month. In the past, Apple has had early access to some new Intel processors, so the company may be preparing to launch a revised 15" MacBook Pro in the next few weeks, with revised 13" and 17" models to follow later.

Further supporting the early launch theory is word that Intel has begun shipping its second-generation Thunderbolt controllers. Those controllers were also expected to be part of Intel's rollout for its Ivy Bridge platform; offering smaller, lower power, and lower cost options compared to the first-generation chips. These new controllers are expected to widen the reach of the nascent high-speed connector, with ASUS, Acer, and Lenovo readying Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks for launch this quarter. Motherboard supplier Gigabyte also plans to have Ivy Bridge-based motherboards with Thunderbolt support as well.

Again, Intel has made no official announcement concerning an April launch. The last word from Intel China chairman Sean Maloney was that Ivy Bridge would be delayed until June. Given how eager vendors are to release new products designed around the Ivy Bridge platform, however, we are not surprised to hear that Intel is planning to stagger its launch and push out the first Ivy Bridge chips as soon as possible.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: CPUs, Intel, Thunderbolt, ultrabooks

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