Although Intel's Sandy Bridge processors have only just launched, early details of Intel's next generation platform codenamed Ivy Bridge are already starting to trickle out. According to early roadmap details we've seen, Intel is estimating that Ivy Bridge will offer a 20 percent performance advantage over Sandy Bridge which is slightly more than what Sandy Bridge offered over Intel's first generation of Core i processors.

Ivy Bridge will at least initially be available in LGA-1155, although we'd expect the new CPU core to appear in other socket configurations as well. Don't expect any huge change in terms of the basic features though, as Ivy Bridge will still only get two or four cores, although there will of course be models with Hyper Threading available. Ivy Bridge is likely to get upgraded to support PCI Express 3.0, although it's unlikely that we'll see an increase in lane count.

On the graphics side we'll see support for DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1 and Intel is targeting a 30 percent graphics performance boost compared to Sandy Bridge. Ivy Bridge will also add support for three independent displays and will support HDMI 1.4, but oddly enough so far it doesn't seem to support DisplayPort 1.2, only 1.1. We should also expect to see improved video encoding, decoding and transcoding, although as always this is depending on software support.

The Panther Point chipset will of course have native USB 3.0 support with the first four USB ports being of the 3.0 variety. Panther Point will support Sandy Bridge, but it's unlikely that Intel's Cougar Point chipsets will support Ivy Bridge. Panther Point will of course also support SATA 6Gbps, but we don't have enough details on how many ports will be supported as yet. When it launches Panther Point will be known as the Intel 7 series chipset, although the exact model names have yet to be nailed down by Intel. The Ivy Bridge platforms will launch sometime in early 2012.