Intel reveals more Sandy Bridge details at CES

Intel has unveiled a raft of new features gracing its latest-generation "Sandy Bridge" CPUs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Intel's PC Client Group vice president and general manager Mooly Eden declared at a press conference that the officially designated "second-generation Intel Core" represents "the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation."

The new Intel processor family's marquee feature is built-in advanced processor graphics, including Intel Insider, Intel Quick Sync Video, a new version of the company's Intel Wireless Display (WiDi), with 1080p HD and content protection added for users who want to beam premium HD content from their laptop screen to their TV.

The chips will come in both mobile and desktop variants, and Intel also revealed that it is working with CinemaNow, Dixons Retail plc, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, Image Entertainment, Sonic Solutions, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to create a protected environment for the distribution, storage and playback of premium content.

"The built-in visual capabilities enabled by these new processors are stunning," said Eden. "This, combined with improved adaptive performance, will revolutionize the PC experience in a way that is obvious for every user to see and appreciate – visibly smarter performance."

Intel says the second-generation Intel Core processor family is the first "visibly smart" microarchitecture to combine visual and 3-D graphics technology with PC microprocessors on a single chip. Incorporating Intel's thoroughly upgraded HD graphics on each 32nm die enables significant graphics performance improvements over previous-generation graphics for both HD media processing and mainstream gaming. Yet the chips, while enabling improved performance, thanks to better overall power management and greater efficiency also offer enhanced battery life and help facilitate the design of thinner, lighter laptops and all-in-one PCs.

The Sandy Bridge processors' graphics technology will focus on the computing tasks Intel says most users are concentrating on nowadays, such as high-definition (HD) video, photos, mainstream gaming, multi-tasking and online socializing and multimedia. Enhanced visual technologies such as next-generation Intel HD graphics are built into every second-generation Intel Core processor. For consumers, this means a dramatically improved PC experience, with better overall power management, greater efficiency and great battery life.

One of the new Sandy Bridge features, Intel Insider, will give users access to movies on their PCs in full high-definition that were not available before. Eden invited Warner Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara, on stage to explain the importance of this feature

"Warner Bros. sees the PC as one of the most broadly available and versatile platforms for delivering premium digital entertainment," Tsujihara said. "Aund now that Intel has made it more secure, we're able to provide new releases and popular catalogue titles in full HD to the PC through our WBShop storefront and from partners like CinemaNow on the same day as DVD and Blu-ray releases."

Eden also used a clip from the Warner Bros. feature film "Inception" to demonstrate how easy it will be to get a movie from CinemaNow and watch it in full HD on a laptop, and how consumers can now also use Intel WiDi 2.0 to beam content such as the "Inception" film to their big- screen HDTVs. Additional Intel WiDi 2.0 improvements include support for 1080pHD as well as protected content either streaming from the Internet or played locally from a Blu-ray or DVD player.

Another unique element of the visual experience built into the CPU family is Intel Quick Sync Video — built-in hardware acceleration that takes the wait out of editing and sharing videos with performance that completes in minutes tasks that used to take hours. Intel estimates that a 4-minute HD video that used to take four minutes to convert to play on an iPod would now take just 16 seconds.

Eden went on to demonstrate the processors' power for immersive mainstream gaming by running a teaser from Valve's Portal 2, one of the most anticipated game releases of 2011.

The second-generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors also include Intel 's enhanced Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 that automatically reallocates processor core and processor graphics resources to accelerate performance, giving users an immediate performance boost when and where it's needed.

Other new chip features include Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), Intel InTru 3-D, and Intel Clear Video Technology HD. Intel InTru 3-D enables immersive stereoscopic 3-D to 3-D-capable HDTVs or monitors via HDMI 1.4, making movie excitement almost come out of the screen.

Intel AVX increases performance for such demanding visual applications as audio processing and professional video image editing such as stitching together multiple photographs. Intel Clear Video improves the visual quality and color fidelity during video playback for a spectacular screen experience.

The chips are made on Intel's 32nm manufacturing process on the company's second-generation high-k metal gate transistors. These advances further boost performance, reduce power consumption for better battery life and smaller designs, and lower overall manufacturing costs.

Intel announced more than 20 processors, wireless adapters and chipsets, including new Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel 6 Series Chipsets, and Intel Centrino WiFi and WiMAX adapters. More than 500 laptop and desktop PC platform designs are expected from all major computer makers worldwide based on these products.

The quad-core-based systems will be available on January 9th with additional dual-core versions coming in February.