Intel is expected to release its next-gen Sandy Bridge processors by early January 2011. According to Expreview, the new parts should retain the current Core i3, i5 and i7 brands but appended by a 2000-series model number signify the new architecture. So, for example, the Sandy Bridge equivalent of a Core i7 870 might be called the Core i7 2870.

This has yet to be confirmed by the chip giant but the rumor falls in line with previous speculation. It's also unclear how Intel will break down the product family this time around. The current nomenclature is known for being rather confusing – Clarkdale and Lynnfield are available as both Core i3 / Core i5 and Core i5 / Core i7 respectively. Additionally, Core i5 chips come in both dual and quad-core variants, while the i7 family boasts four or six cores.

In terms of specifications, details are still a bit scarce about the new Sandy Bridge chips at the moment, other than the knowledge that they will debut in dual and quad core variants, with an improved 32nm Intel IGP on the same die, and fit into a new LGA 1155 'H2' socket. Although only one pin theoretically separates this new socket from the current LGA1156, LGA1155 sockets will not be backwards compatible with the older CPUs. Enthusiast grade six-core or eight-core Sandy Bridge variants will reportedly follow later in 2011, fitting into Socket R, or LGA 2011.