Intel has announced that codename Sandy Bridge will be branded as the second generation of the company's Core processors (as rumored) and will be hitting the market in early 2011 for both desktops and laptops. As with today's chips, only the dual-core chips will be efficient enough for light notebooks; quad-core chips will still be reserved for desktop replacement portables.

Intel isn't ready to share specific details, other than claiming performance, battery life, and power consumption improvements. So far though, we have to say that the leaked specs look good. Intel did note, however, that the 32nm chips will include an integrated graphics processor and memory controller (courtesy of a new "ring" architecture), allowing the graphics component to share cache with the core. As we've already seen, that will give visuals quite a boost.

Next year's chips will also come with Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) which is intended to accelerate media tasks while a 256-bit instruction set accelerates floating point intensive applications such as digital photo editing and content creation. Much like MMX and SSE, AVX will require some code tweaking but can potentially speed up many tasks in design-related work. Finally, it's worth noting that an enhanced version of Intel's Turbo Boost technology will automatically shift or reallocate processor cores and processor graphics resources as needed.

Separately, Intel also demonstrated its next-generation Xeon architecture, but this one won't enter production until the second half of 2011. The new eight-core design is built for both one-socket or two-socket workstations and servers that have to operate under tighter power limits. The designs support Hyper-threading and take advantage of the AES New Instructions set (AESNI).