Even before Sandy Bridge was launched, leaks regarding the architecture's upcoming 22nm iteration began circulation all over the Web, and recently Intel has finally confirmed some of the features of the 2012 Ivy Bridge processors, including their support for USB 3.0 and PCI Express 3.0.
Ivy Bridge is the code name used for the 22nm die shrink of the current Sandy Bridge chips and features basically the same architecture, but with a few minor tweaks and improvements.
One of the most important changes introduced with Ivy Bridge will be the support for DirectX 11 and Intel has also raised the number of EUs found inside the on-die GPU to 16 in its most powerful CPUs, up from the 12 EUs found inside mobile Sandy Bridge processors and select desktop SKUs.
In addition, the new integrated graphics unit can now drive up to three independent displays.
The processor cores have also received some minor tweaks as their AVX performance has been slightly increased and Intel has updated the integrated PCI Express controller to the 3.0 standard.
This should double the bandwidth available to the 16 PCI Express lanes found inside the chip, from 500MB/s per lane to 1GB/s per lane.
The move will benefit multi-GPU systems as well as users who use high-performance PCI Express SSDs and other such devices that require a high data bandwidth.
The rest of the changes brought with Ivy Bridge come from the new 7-series Panther Point chipsets, which pack native USB 3.0.
Up to four such ports are available in the PCH and ComputerBase even states that, during the Beijing IDF, Intel has also dropped a few hints regarding Thunderbolt support.
The first processors based on the Ivy Bridge architecture are expected to make their entrance at the beginning of next year, together with the 7-series Panther Point chipsets, and a recently leaked Intel roadmap suggest that these will quickly replace their Sandy Bridge counterparts.