Intel ready to jump off Sandy Bridge

Intel is officially announcing its next-generation processor - and Hollywood is playing a big role.

Sandy Bridge--or what Intel now calls the 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family--is a big step for the chipmaker because, for the first time in a mainstream product, the graphics chip is grafted directly onto the main processor, boosting performance. This design essentially provides the graphics function for free, allowing PC makers to bring out laptops that don't have to always rely on separate graphics processors from Advanced Micro Devices or Nvidia. (For more on the technical details of the new chip, see this companion report.)

"It's all about the visual experience and smarter performance," Tom Kilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group, said in an interview last week. "It's well documented how online video is going on across the globe. There's over 100 million people doing user-generated content creation. So, what we tried to do with the architecture is really improve that experience. We're calling it the User Visual Experience."

One of Sandy Bridge's marquee features is high-speed, on-the-fly conversion between data formats. The chip also includes the next version of Intel's Turbo Boost--version 2.0, a key technology that speeds up and slows down the processor to optimize performance and power, respectively.

For more on this story, read Intel's 2nd-gen chip arrives, with Hollywood in tow on CNET News.