We already knew Intel planned to ship its die shrink of Sandy Bridge this month, but separate reports by CNET and DigiTimes this week offer a more specific date: Monday, April 23. Intel is expected to yank the wraps off its next-generation processors on that day, initiating Ivy Bridge PC rollouts. It's unclear how many refreshed machines will be offered immediately, nor is there any word on retail availability for individual chips.
We wouldn't be surprised if a few ultrabooks are at least unveiled with Ivy Bridge, though many vendors aren't expected to ship revamped machines until May or June. In a conference call with Toshiba last week, the company said it wouldn't be prepared to discuss its new ultrabooks until sometime next month. Although Ivy Bridge ultrabooks might still be a month or so away, Intel claims there are at least 75 due in 2012.
Intel tends to launch its high-end quad-core products before more power efficient ULV chips, so full-size desktops and notebooks could exit the starting gate a little sooner. An upcoming HP EliteBook refresh has already surfaced and evidence suggests that Apple is preparing to unleash new MacBook Pros (current-gen supplies are dwindling and it's been over a year since the company shipped Sandy Bridge-based machines).
As usual, we plan to publish an Ivy Bridge review as promptly as possible and we're currently working on an overview of the new 7-series Panther Point chipsets. In the meantime, you can brush up on Intel's new processors with the breakdown we posted in early March. The gist of it: Ivy Bridge uses new tri-gate transistors to shrink Sandy Bridge and deliver up to 37% more performance while consuming as little as half the power.