Intel intros dual-core Ivy Bridge chips; releases sneak peek of upcoming Ultrabooks

The chipmaker also ramps up the standards for Ultrabooks

Intel officially announced its dual-core and ultra-low voltage (ULV) Ivy Bridge processors for mainstream laptops, Ultrabooks, and desktop PCs Thursday. In addition, the chipmaker released a sneak peak of upcoming Ultrabooks, as well as stricter requirements for that brand of ultrathin laptops.

The first wave of Intel's new Ivy Bridge processors, launched in April, included only quad-core parts for high-end laptops and desktops. Right on schedule, Intel released its second wave, which includes dual-core Core i5 and i7 processors. There are 14 new chips in total, eight of them laptop processors, including four that are ultra-low voltage.

Up until now, we've only seen a few gaming and mobile workstation laptops running Ivy Bridge. Expect many more new and less expensive Ivy Bridge laptops to hit retail shelves soon (although the cheapest Core i3 Ivy Bridge laptops aren't expected until the fall). It'll also soon be a good time to look for an older Sandy Bridge laptop in the clearance section.

Expect Ultrabook Announcements Next Week

Besides mainstream Ivy Bridge laptops, a new wave of third-generation Ultrabooks will be arriving on the scene next week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. Intel says there are more than 110 designs for Ultrabook devices currently in the pipeline. More than a quarter (30) of those Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, and 10 of those sport convertible designs.

These Ultrabooks will have the same requirements for thickness (0.7 inches to about 0.8 inches), resume-from-hibernation time (7 seconds), and battery life (at least 5 hours) as Sandy Bridge Ultrabooks. Intel will add a few new specs for Ultrabooks running Ivy Bridge. These include USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt ports, built-in Intel Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technology, and also "responsive[ness] while active." That last requirement is vague, but Intel says this means the laptop will load and run favorite applications "quickly."

There's still no weight, screen resolution, display size, or price standards that would really help define the Ultrabook brand further. Hopefully PC manufacturers will follow Intel's recommended (rather than required) suggestions for Ultrabooks--touchscreens, sensors, Intel Wireless Display (WiDi), and more than 8 hours of battery life--because those seem like ideal features.

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Melanie Pinola

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