Intel's next generation CPU architecture has yet to hit the streets, but several online retailers have begun listing Windows notebooks powered by the Sandy Bridge microprocessor -- which should also power the next iteration of the MacBook Pro.
Laptoping spotted notebooks from Acer, Gateway and Lenovo equipped with the new Intel I7-2630QM showing up on product lists, but they won't ship before the official Sandy Bridge launch at CES in January.
This new 2.0+ GHz quad-core processor is expected to be manufactured on Intel's current 32 nanometer process while adding enhancements to improve media and math performance. The new chips will also likely improve out-of-order execution performance, which is critical to getting a real world boost on these multi-core processors with multi-threaded applications.
The Sandy Bridge chips also feature a new integrated graphics core that may match the horsepower of the dedicated GPUs currently provided by NVIDIA and AMD. Having a high-performance integrated GPU would allow Apple to simplify the internals of the MacBook Pro and migrate the line to a new slimmer form factor similar to the MacBook Air. The current MBP unibody design has been with us since late 2008.
Intel will officially announce the Sandy Bridge CPUs on January 5, 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, so we may see new MacBook Pros soon after.