Did you read about the details of Intel's Ivy Bridge launch a few weeks ago and wonder what happened to the dual core and ultra mobile chips that have proved so popular in Sandy Bridge variants? Don't worry, they haven't been retired – just held back until today, that's all.
There are 14 new processors launched today, nine of which are duallies. They join the quad core Core i5 3xxx and Core i7 3xxx CPUs we've already seen and reviewed in PCG 241, and with them promises of ultra cheap or ultra thin gaming systems, and touch screen Ultrabooks too.
If you're holding out for the dual core Core i3 3xxx, however, you'll be sadly disappointed. Those aren't arriving until later this year, which means we'll probably continue to favour AMD's Fusion processors as budget gaming buys come review time.
There's a full list over at Engadget if you want to see them all, but the CPUs range from the lowly desktop Core i5 2470T to the ultra low voltage Core i7 3667U, which is an Ultrabook destined chip that draws just 17W and features Intel's best graphics core to date, the HD Graphics 4000. Which is still a bit rubbish, mind.
As an aside, Intel's 'Core' branding made a lot of sense when it launched, since it suggested a clear hierarchy of Core i7>Core i5>Core i3 based on numbers of cores, Hyperthreading and graphics processor. The while nomenclature has collapsed in on itself of late, however, and the difference between a Core i5 3427U (two cores, Hyperthreading) and a Core i7 3667U (two cores, Hyperthreading) comes down to 200MHz and a megabyte of cache memory.
If you can spot the difference those stats make in any practical benchmark relevant to an ultrabook, you fully deserve the $140 difference in price between the two.
The good news is that Intel reckons it'll be getting some very cheap Ultrabooks out later this year as a result, and told The Verge that it hopes to see some which cost under $700. A quick scout of the web suggests that Acer's already close to that mark, even with last year's tech.
We haven't had one of the new chips in to review yet, but looking at Notebookcheck's early figures it looks like the story is (unsurprisingly) the same as the quad core announcement a month ago. That's a small speed increase which isn't worth switching out a good Sandy Bridge chip for, but nice if you're upgrading any way.