The main topic, or practically only topic, of conversation at this years IDF (Intel Developers Forum) is its forthcoming CPU family, Sandy Bridge.
Earlier today, Intel CEO Paul Otellini kicked things off by showing some stats from Gartner which claim that over 1 million PCs are sold worldwide every day, and that this number is expected to grow by 18 per cent next year.
Otellini then went on to say that the majority of these new PCs are laptops, using this to explain why Intel's forthcoming Sandy Bridge processor family is so heavily optimised for mobile use.
One of the first facts about Sandy Bridge to be bandied about by Intel was its headline-grabbing 1 billion transistors. This is an approximate 30 per cent increase over the previous generation of Intel desktop CPUs, although Sandy Bridge does of course include an integrated GPU.
Given the dire performance of previous-generation Intel GPUs when it comes to gaming don't ditch your GeForce or Radeon card quite yet, although an Intel product manager did tell us that 'Sandy Bridge is capable of playing Bad Company 2 at medium detail at 1,024 x 768
', which does at least sound like a step forward.
However, Intel did get rather touchy when questioned on its decision not to support DirectX 11 in Sandy Bridge. Tom Piazza, Intel Fellow and Director of Graphics Architecture, claimed that 'most games still fall back to DirectX 9'.
Intel also made some pretty bold claims about the performance of Sandy Bridge, stating that 'tasks that took hours on Core 2 and took minutes on Nehalem/Westmere will only take seconds on Sandy Bridge
'. Nehalem is the code name for the original Core i7 microarchitecture and Westmere its 32nm die-shrink.
Marketing guff aside, an anonymous source within Intel has told us to expect '[i]superior performance to Bloomfield [quad-core LGA1366 Core i7] and performance close to Gulftown [6-core Core i7]'. This probably helps to explain why Intel recently slashed the price of the Core i7-950
, as otherwise its premium price LGA1366 platform would look decidedly unattractive.
Finally, Intel also confirmed that Sandy Bridge CPUs will be branded as Core i3, i5 and i7 when they go on sale early next year.
More details to follow, as Intel reveals more on the technical side of Sandy Bridge. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the forum