Intel Unveils Dual-Core Ivy Bridge CPUs for Ultrabooks

Intel has now unveiled the low-power, dual-core versions of its 22mm Ivy Bridge CPUs intended for the chip manufacturer’s Ultrabook specification. This series of hyper-threaded processors has been dubbed “Ivy Bridge DC” and are the 17-watt variants of the third-generation Core i5 and i7 CPUs with half the cores.

Since Intel has declined to disclose details on transistor counts and die size, Tech Report speculates that these chips are being recovered from quad-core Ivy Bridge chips by removing half the cores and half the L3 cache.

Intel has revealed four models of the Ivy Bridge DC: the i5-3317U, i5-3427U, i7-3517U and i7-3667U. The base clock speeds for these chips run from 1.7 GHz to 2.0 GHz, while these clocks can get ramped up to between 2.6 GHz and 3.2 GHz in single-core Turbo Boost mode. The i5-3317U and i7-3517U are clearly positioned as the lower-end models of this range, omitting support for Intel’s AES, TXT and vPro technology.

The chip manufacturer has only revealed prices of the higher-end i5 and i7 chips: $226 for the i5-3472U and $346 for the i7-3667U. Intel’s reference Ivy Bridge Ultrabook features a 1600 x 900 13.3-inch screen 4GB RAM and a 240GB SSD, and similar systems should sell for around $1,000. Even so, the chip manufacturer hopes to drive prices down for Ivy Bridge-based laptops to the $599 range. This should be good news for consumers.

Meanwhile, benchmark results from Tech Report show that the new Ivy Bridge chips for Ultrabooks perform better and consume less power than their Sandy Bridge predecessors. However, they noted that the dual-core chips have less powerful integrated graphics than their quad-core desktop brethren, leading to generally slower gaming performance.

Intel also unveiled some updates to its Ultrabook requirements: they must have USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt ports, enabled Intel Identity Protection and Anti-Theft, while being able to load and run favorite applications quickly. Despite this, the specifications for these ultraportables’ form factors and SSD sizes are still as loose as ever, making some examples of these laptops difficult to position against the MacBook Air in the market.