Intel CEO Paul Otellini didn't mince words for the long-awaited introduction of his company's new microprocessor architecture, calling Sandy Bridge "the best product we've ever built."
During Intel's keynote at CES 2011 Wednesday, Otellini unveiled the second generation of its Core processor family, which now uses the new Sandy Bridge 32-nm process and also comes equipped with built-in graphics capabilities. The update includes new versions of the Core i3, i5 and i7 series of processors that were originally introduced at last year's CES.
"This is the biggest launch of the year for us, but it's beyond that," Otellini said. "This is not only the best product we've ever built -- it's the most exciting product we've ever built."
Among the features highlighted in the second generation Core release were Intel Insider, a new hardware-based protection technology that allows users to purchase and rent the newest HD movies on their PC; Intel Quick Sync Video, a built-in hardware acceleration technology designed to speed up video editing and sharing; and Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) 2.0, which enables users to wirelessly connect their computers to HDTV and now stream full 1080p HD video content.
The updated Core family also comes with Intel InTru 3D, which supports full stereoscopic 3-D Blu-ray playback, and Intel HD Graphics 3000, which gives users the ability to play full 1080p HD content without the need for an additional discrete graphics card.
In fact, Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, told the audience that Sandy Bridge processors can outperform the graphics performance of 40 to 50 percent of current discrete graphics cards on the market today.
Mooly invited Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve Software, to the stage to show a demonstration of Valve's forthcoming video game Portal 2 on Sandy Bridge-based hardware.
"I think Sandy Bridge is a real game changer," Newell told the audience, adding that Valve was currently using Sandy Bridge systems to work on Portal 2, which is scheduled to launch in April.
Mooly added that in today's world, people are communicating not just with text but through pictures and video, and that Sandy Bridge's architecture was created with the goal of making rich content creation and consumption faster and easier. For example, Mooly highlighted the Quick Sync Video feature as a feature crafted for a new generation of users. "Sandy Bridge does video transcoding faster than any discrete graphics card on the market," he said.
Intel said it will be releasing 20 new Sandy Bridge-based Core processors in all in the near future and that more than 500 new desktop and laptop systems featuring Sandy Bridge are expected to be introduced this year from Intel's OEM partners.
So crucial to Intel's business is Sandy Bridge that Otellini declared the new technology will represent a third of the chip maker's overall revenue this year and generate a total of $125 billion in total PC industry revenue.