Intel, the company that makes the processors used in every Mac currently being manufactured, officially announced the details of the new Sandy Bridge processors, otherwise known as the Intel Core 2011 processors. These are the second generation of the Core processors found in many of Apple's products (i.e., the Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs), and the new silicon could herald good news for future Macs. The Sandy Bridge processor family uses Intel's 32nm microarchitecture and is the first to put the processor, memory controller, and graphics on the same die. In a nutshell, this means more performance and better energy efficiency.
TUAW reported back in early December that Apple has committed to use the integrated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) of the Sandy Bridge processor in future MacBooks, providing speculation that most future MacBooks may do away with a separate GPU. At the current time, the entire MacBook family uses NVIDIA GPUs to accelerate graphics processing. By using the built-in GPU of the Core 2011 processors, the component cost of Apple's future Macs will be reduced slightly. Whether or not that will translate to lower prices for consumers is unknown at this time. More on the new hardware after the break.