Just about 14 months have passed since Intel launched its Sandy Bridge-E processors for high-end desktops. Their Ivy Bridge-E replacements are due out this year, but according to Fudzilla, the chips will arrive later than expected. The site's sources claim Ivy Bridge-E was supposed to debut in the third quarter but has instead been pushed toward the end of the year.
Intel's Haswell-based desktop chips are expected to arrive in June, so Ivy Bridge-E would have followed them even if there were no change to the schedule. That timing may make Ivy Bridge-E a tough sell for high-end desktop systems. Who wants to buy last year's microarchitecture when the next-generation hotness is already available?
People who want more CPU cores and platform bandwidth, that's who. Haswell chips won't have more than four physical cores, but Ivy Bridge-E should pack at least six, if its Sandy-based predecessor is any indication. Sandy Bridge-E silicon actually has eight CPU cores, two of which were disabled for desktop versions of the CPU, so it's possible Intel could go with an eight-core config this time around.
Ivy Bridge-E should offer more memory bandwidth than Haswell thanks to additional DRAM channels. The on-chip cache will likely be larger, as well, and there will undoubtedly be more PCI Express lanes stemming from the processor.
Ideally, Ivy-E's accompanying platform hub will also offer more robust I/O than Haswell chipsets. That would be a nice change from Sandy Bridge-E's X79 platform, which looks a little sparse next to newer Intel chipsets that add SSD caching and USB 3.0. The X79 platform was supposed to offer additional SATA and SAS ports, but those features were dropped due to problems with the chip.
Hopefully, the are no issues with Ivy Bridge-E's companion silicon. Intel can certainly take its time getting the new high-end platform just right, though. AMD doesn't have anything that can compete with Sandy Bridge-E, let alone a more potent successor.