Intel's Ivy Bridge rumoured for Computex 2011

Intel's Sandy Bridge line of processors are barely cooled from the fab, but a report is claiming that its successor - the Ivy Bridge platform - is due to appear at Computex in May.

Building on its existing Sandy Bridge series, which has proven remarkably successful if you ignore the little hiccup with the Cougar Point supporting chipset, the Ivy Bridge line takes the existing design and shrinks it from a 32nm process size to a scant 22nm.

A drop in process size means smaller, faster chips - and while Ivy Bridge is unlikely to bring any major advances in the underlying technology, the chips should run faster and cooler than their larger Sandy Bridge predecessors.

Although as-yet unconfirmed by Intel, which - as usual - does not comment on unannounced product rumours, the claims of a May launch at Computex in Taipei come from Chinese-language newspaper Commercial Times and were picked up and translated late yesterday by industry rumour-mill DigiTimes.

The release of Ivy Bridge chips as early as May might seem like an odd move to make, given the relatively recent launch of the larger Sandy Bridge line, but makes sense if Intel is looking to compete with ARM in the burgeoning tablet market. Currently, Intel's 32nm-based processors run too hot and draw too much power to offer much competition to low-power specialist ARM, but a drop in process size to 22nm would go some way to alleviate that gap.

A jump straight to 22nm - bypassing the intermediate 28nm process size many of its competitors are concentrating on - will give Intel a boost all round, offering a head start over its competitors. Initially, however, supplies of the chips are likely to be limited as Intel works to upgrade its fabrication facilities to support the new process size.

It's likely that Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge will co-exist on the market for some time to come - but how many enthusiasts opt to upgrade when higher-performance parts are due in such a short time remains to be seen.