Of the latest computer hardware products to hit the market Intel has had some of the biggest impact with its storied i-series Sandy Bridge processors which are the first SoC, system on a chip, which combines the number crunching processing with the graphical processing on a single piece of silicon. This leads to great power efficiency, greater speed as well as the practicality of having a graphics card with the chip. It also strengthens the case for applications making use of the number crunching power of graphics processors to do integer and flaoting point maths, speeding some tasks up hugely. Following the recall, caused by the discovery that the SATA disk drive chips would fail early on the first version of the core, the new version has been released quickly and is now a major competitor to all other desktop and mobile chips in the market place as Intel follow a very aggressive pricing policy. The entry level dual-core i3 will be available for as little as £110, competing comfortably even with AMD`s deliberately low priced offerings. At the top end the i7-2600K, a quad core chip with impressive self-overclocking capabilities available for £288, running at 3.4 GHz, new top end processors have never been this cheap and in fact were often more than twice this price.

Intel`s other release has been the new generation of SSD, solid state disks, offering silent, low power and far faster performance than conventional spinning platter disks. The 6 Gbps 510 series comes in 120 GB and 250 GB versions and offers a reading speed of over 500 MBps along with writing at more than 315 MBps, using the new 34 nm production technology. These have struck the market as rather disappointing as the expected fall in prices for SSDs has failed to materialise, with these priced at £212 and £446 they are certainly not cheap, compared to a 1 terabyte platter disk at a mere £75 it is a difficult item for many consumers to justify the purchase of to themselves. It`s not clear if the technology has simply failed to deliver expected gains and price decreases or if the producers have decided to remain an upmarket and more luxurious item rather than attempt to compete with conventional methods of storage. The advantages of SSD- of silent running and very fast operating system loading and program responsiveness will only justify the steep price for the most serious of users.

The SSD will be facing competition from the next version from Sandforce, with Intel attempting to compete on their name recognition rather than offering a competitive price, nor especially competitive performance.

Intel`s Sandy Bridge system will also soon be facing competition as their competitor in the processor area, AMD will be bringing out the Fusion system on a chip, very much like Intel`s Sandy Bridge, this will be an ATI graphics core on the same silicon as an AMD processor aimed at fast gaming systems. It`s unclear what we can expect from Fusion in desktop computers to compete with Intel, their process is not as small as Intel`s so chips are inherently more power hungry with the heat limiting their speeds as they must be cooled though the ATI graphics may significantly outperform the Intel onboard graphics.