Continuing its tick-tock release cycle, Intel plans to unveil a new CPU microarchitecture at the end of April. Codenamed Ivy Bridge (tick), the update will bring a 22nm die shrink of current 32nm Sandy Bridge technology (tock), bringing greater efficiency and allowing Intel to cram more into the same size die.
Intel is often criticized for introducing too many new chipsets and sockets, but this isn't usually the case with "ticks" as the microarchitecture is largely the same as the preceding "tock." Such is the case with Ivy Bridge, which uses the same LGA1155 socket introduced in early last year alongside Sandy Bridge.
Although backwards compatibility with 6-series motherboards will be available, Intel couldn't resist the opportunity to accompany its latest architecture with a fresh round of chipsets. Codenamed "Panther Point," the new 7-series chipsets include half a dozen parts, with the Z77 being Intel's new flagship.
We expect many performance fiends to question whether upgrading to a 7-series board is worthwhile, and we wouldn't be surprised if some budget builders are interested in discounted secondhand 6-series boards. We'll offer an overview on Panther Point offers so you can make an informed shopping decision.