Performance details of Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processors have leaked out, while the company has also confirmed that it has already begun to produce test circuitry based on a 14nm process size.
Leaked slides obtained by the guys over at X-bit Labs have confirmed details found on an earlier slide set, including the expected April 2012 launch date, but also brought some new information - including comparative benchmarks between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge hardware.
While the instruction set architecture doesn't change overly much between the current-generation Sandy Bridge and next-generation Ivy Bridge hardware - with Intel saving that for the upcoming 'Haswell' family in 2013 - the company has dropped the process size and increased the graphical of the on-chip graphics processing hardware.
The result, Intel's leaked figures claim, is a boost when compared to Sandy Bridge processors of the same specification.
Using a current-generation Intel Core i7-2600 chip as the baseline, the leaked slides claim that the upcoming Intel Core i7-3770 - matching the 8MB cache, 3.4GHz clock speed and quad-core specifications of its predecessor exactly - will boast significant performance improvements in all tasks.
From a pure CPU standpoint, the performance gain is impressive but not revolutionary: SYSmark 2012 shows a 7 per cent increase, HDXPRT 2011 shows a 14 per cent increase, Cinebench 11.5 shows a 15 per cent increase, while Excel 2010 boasts a 25 per cent increase.
The new graphics hardware - dubbed Intel HD Graphics 4000, from the Sandy Bridge's Intel HD Graphics 2000 - is a different matter: Intel's benchmarks show a near-doubling of performance across the board, with 3DMark Vantage boasting a 199 per cent increase when restricted to the GPU.
These figures should prove worrying reading for chip rival AMD: its main selling point over Intel in the mainstream market is the graphics hardware built into its Fusion Accelerated Processing Units. Should Intel's HD Graphics 4000 technology match this performance, the one reason people may have for buying an AMD processor could disappear altogether.
Intel, for its part, has neither confirmed nor denied the validity of the leaked slides - but has commented on its future plans with confirmation that it's working on a 14nm process size, with test circuitry already available in the lab.
Speaking to Nordic Hardware, Intel's Pat Bliemer confirmed plans to release processors based on a 14nm process size during 2014, as part of the 'Broadwell' revision to the 'Haswell' architecture. With other companies struggling to produce chips below the 20nm process size, Intel's lead doesn't appear to be diminishing.