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Perhaps Intel took note of this report, as it appears to have implemented all three of the scientists' suggestions in its third-generation processors. Core counts also were expected to rise when Intel's 22nm process came on line. And rise they have. The Ivy Bridge design with its breakthrough Tri-Gate transistor has created a new breed of powerful, energy-efficient laptops and desktops with more cores than ever before while operating at about half the power of its equivalent using prior technology.
The Intel Core i7 3770K is among the first processors available that incorporates Tri-Gate technology, which creates three-dimensional transistors that maximize current flow when in the on state and consume close to zero when off. Performance results show significantly faster speeds than prior generations; Ivy Bridge processors are off to a running start.
In 2011, when Intel said it was able to mass-produce the parts using a 22nm process, the company estimated performance increases of as much as 37 percent compared with 32nm planar-transistor devices, and power consumption at about half or less. Such parts would be highly desirable for small handheld units such as smartphones and tablets, medical devices, media players and portable gaming systems.
In fact, anything that can benefit from the ability to switch between high performance and low power consumption could take advantage. These days, that includes just about everything, and we're beginning to see two- and four-core Ivy Bridge processors in a multitude of laptops -- including Ultrabooks -- as well as many desktop systems. And as Intel promised, Ivy Bridge processors use the same sockets as Sandy Bridge parts.
What's more, the ability to mass-produce the 3-D technology using the 22nm process makes possible a further transition to 14nm and even 10nm nodes. Ivy Bridge chips can be soldered onto a motherboard without a socket to further reduce a system's profile.
This capability will no doubt benefit Microsoft's Surface for Windows 8, a full-featured tablet that's built around Ivy Bridge. Perhaps more impressive is the Surface for Windows RT, which will incorporate Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor.
Technically considered to be a system-on-chip, the Tegra 3 casts four 1.4GHz Cortex A9 cores on the die along with a fifth low-power core that can perform all functions during device standby. The Tegra 3 system-on-chip also includes a GeForce GPU with as many as 12 graphics processor cores and supports a maximum resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. Google's Nexus 7 tablet also will feature the Tegra 3.
NEXT: A Smartphone Supercomputer?