Intel recently released its Ivy Bridge family of processors and anyone who likes gadgets should be asking the question -is it a good idea to upgrade? True, its always a good idea to upgrade but sometimes neither the purse, nor the bank manager (my wife hates me calling her that) will yield the necessary quid. In this case, unless your system is more than two or three years old, it might be worth waiting, especially if you are running a Sandy Bridge processor based desktop.

The marketing mavens at Intel have come up with describing processor updates as “tick” or “tock”, with a tick release being a smaller sized processor that are aimed at reducing heat and power and a tock release being changes in chip design where  faster speeds and processor throughput are the goals.  Ivy Bridge is a tick release that reduces the processor footprint to 22 nanometres from the 32 nanometres of the Sandy Bridge class chips. Other than reduced die size and better heat management, Ivy Bridge offers better onboard graphics but relatively little in the way of a desktop speed bump.

An interesting point for those who don’t mind getting into the guts of their desktops, the Ivy Bridge processor is pin compatible with Sandy Bridge motherboards, if you are keen to swap out the Sandy Bridge chip. Honestly, that is not a good idea, but if the desktop is a bit long in the tooth, its a good time to consider a motherboard swap.

The case is a bit different for laptop users. Intel’s “tri-gate”transistor technology according to Intel, “…uses three gates wrapped around the silicon channel in a 3-D structure, enabling an unprecedented combination of performance and energy efficiency.”   Sources claim that Ivy Bridge processors use half the power of prior processors, which translates into mobile battery savings. Further, Ivy Bridge supports native Direct X 11 and improved HD rendering. Not to say you will be happily running Crysis with the integrated graphics chip but, for most games and workaday tasks, its a definite step up.

So the question remains, should you wait for Ivy Bridge to hit your price point? Right now the systems out there are top end systems. If you were going to buy, the decision is definitively easier for a laptop upgrade, particularly for older machines. Another consideration is taking advantage of some of the sales out there by retailer who are shifting stock to make room for newer devices. You need to be careful but if you go that route you could well pick up quite a bargain without being very far behind the curve.