The maker of chips that are never supposed to be fried, has been talking up its new Sandy Bridge processors to suppliers lately which means we are starting to get a few more details.
For those who came in late, Sandy Bridge is Intel's next microarchitecture and not a lot has been leaked to the great unwashed about what it can do.
Now Intel's suppliers are starting to telling the world+dog that the new design will feature new circuits for handling demanding multimedia tasks.
But it will also include silicon dedicated to handling the transcoding, or converting, of data from one format to another. According to Intel these transcoding circuits will be separate from the main processor and the on-chip graphics function.
Most of this is due to the fact that Sandy Bridge, uses 32-nanometer manufacturing technology.
Transcoding is fairly cool at the hardware level. It converts a movie on a PC to a format that makes it viewable on another format. It is particularly good at moving formats between gadgets. So if you have a camera, the Sandy Bridge silicon will make it super fast to get the images off it and into your computer for editing.
Sandy Bridge will also include Advanced Vector Extension (Intel AVX) instructions, they will assist in speeding up multimedia tasks, including video and audio processing.
It seems that Intel thinks that the next generation of computers are going to be multimedia powerhouses which will have to interact with shedloads of gadgets. Hardwiring all this multimedia functionality into the chip will certainly move computing away from its traditional serious front.
What worries us, however, is the potential for the likes of Hollywood to design DRM and multi-media content protection to a very deep level. But our guess is that it will also mean that pirates are more likely to need to target the chip to break such formatting.
Intel never comments on unannounced Sandys.