A leaked spec sheet purporting to show prices for Intel's upcoming lineup of "Ivy Bridge-E" processors could give us a hint at what to expect from the chip giant's next release of high-end desktop PC parts.
The leaked specs for seven next-generation multi-core Core i7 chips were posted on the Chinese-language site VR-Zone this week. AnandTech found the listed prices and specs to be plausible, but noted that there seem to be some discrepancies between the Turbo Boost clock frequencies for the upcoming enthusiast desktop parts and the Turbo Boost speeds it had earlier predicted for Ivy Bridge-E.
You can also see in the chart put together by AnandTech above, in brackets under the prices listed for several next-gen Core i7 chips, prices for Intel's equivalent current-generation "Sandy Bridge-E" desktop processors.
If the leaked prices are accurate, it appears that Intel plans to price the newer parts at nearly the same prices or in some cases, even lower than what it's asking for their predecessors.
AnandTech also pointed out that the price jump from quad-core Ivy Bridge-E processors to the six-core parts remains very steep.
"[T]here's still no inexpensive hex-core solution; you either spend $555 or more, or you get a quad-core part," the website noted.
Ivy Bridge is the successor to Intel's Sandy Bridge-generation of 32-nanometer processors first released in early 2011 for the company's Core and Xeon product lines. Ivy Bridge-based chips, based on 22nm process technology, began appearing in flavours optimised for laptops, desktops, and servers last year, but some of the most powerful parts in the Core i7 Ivy Bridge-E family aren't slated for release until later in 2013.
Which is a bit puzzling, AnandTech pointed out. Ivy Bridge is a "tick" or process shrink in Intel's product development cadence. In between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge is the "tock" of the redesigned microarchitecture code named Haswell, which has already started turning up in new Intel processors this year. Shouldn't any new 22nm Core i7s Intel plans to release also be getting the Haswell redesign as well?
The answer, it seems, is that Intel wanted to make its latest, greatest processors for high-end desktops socket-compatible with older Sandy Bridge-based motherboards, which makes sense for the enthusiast market. Pushing out a line of "Haswell-E" chips would have made that impossible, so we probably shouldn't expect such parts until 2014, according to AnandTech.