Let's begin with a look at Intel's press deck for Ivy Bridge... Of the mounds of media/press slides, briefing documents, and other materials that Intel prepared for the Ivy Bridge launch, they really do not cover Linux at all. As such, Phoronix will be providing its usual concise and exclusive information concerning Linux support and performance for this new hardware. If you just want an in-depth technical analysis of the Ivy Bridge architecture, you can easily look at the dozens of other web-sites that regurgitate Intel's supplied information.
The new processors being introduced today include the Intel Core i5 3550S, i5 3450S, i5 3570K, i5 3550, i5 3450, i7 3770T, i7 3770S, i7 3770K, and i7 3770. The mobile Ivy Bridge processors launching today are the Intel Core i7 3610QM, i7 3612QM, i7 3720QM, and i7 3820QM. The only Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition processor launching today is the Intel Core i7 3920XM Extreme Edition, the other Ivy-Extreme CPUs will be launched in the future just like the later launch of the Sandy Bridge Extreme CPUs. Existing Intel Sandy Bridge motherboards/chipsets are compatible with Ivy Bridge processors, but earlier this month Intel launched the new Panther Point chipsets that are already compatible with Linux too: the B75, H77, Z75, Z77, HM75, HM76, UM77, and HM77.
As has been widely reported already, Ivy Bridge is Intel's first processors based on their latest 22nm process. Intel Sandy Bridge was 32nm. Ivy Bridge is also the first processors with Intel's new 3-D transistor technology.
Ivy Bridge brings improved Intel HD graphics with support for Microsoft DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1, and OpenGL 3.1. The OpenGL 3.1 support for Intel Ivy Bridge processors under Linux with their Mesa DRI driver is still a work-in-progress, the earliest we will see this stable is the Mesa 8.1 release this summer. With the current stable release, Mesa 8.0 (what's found in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and other new distributions) is GLSL 1.30 / OpenGL 3.0 compliance for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge graphics. Ivy Bridge can also handle HDMI 1.4a and drive three independent displays simultaneously, another feature that's already supported by the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver. When paired with an Intel 7-Series "Panther Point" chipset there is also PCI Express 3.0 support, integrated USB 3.0, and other new capabilities. Under Linux right now for the Ivy Bridge graphics there is no OpenCL support, but they seem to be working on OpenCL support. For the CPU side, Intel makes a closed-source Intel OpenCL SDK that does work under Linux.
Another new feature of Ivy Bridge processors is the hardware-based random number generator. GCC 4.7 and LLVM 3.1 support this Intel hardware random number generator, a.k.a. RDRAND / Bull Mountain.
For the video acceleration with Intel HD 4000 "Ivy Bridge" graphics, VA-API continues to be the Linux video API of choice for Intel to offload the video encode/decode to the graphics processor. VA-API and VDPAU continue to be the most widely-supported Linux video acceleration APIs and are supported by most of the popular Linux multimedia programs.