Ivy Bridge, Intel's 22nm successor to the currently dominant Sandy Bridge generation of processors, has been the subject of most of the talk at IDF this past week. And yet, one of its highlight features managed to go by almost unnoticed: the graphics processor integrated inside the Ivy Bridge chip will be able to decode video at a resolution of up to 4,096 x 4,096. That's north of 16 megapixels at a time, but don't get carried away with visions of our supreme HD future just yet. As AnandTech points out, we don't currently have cables with sufficient bandwidth to shuttle that much visual data to our monitors and, of course, 4k displays are neither cheap nor widely available.
Intel's improvement in potential resolution should still encourage panel makers to pursue higher resolutions, most likely in the 4k x 2k range to match the 16:9 aspect ratio that's become the de facto standard today. Unlike discrete GPUs from Nvidia and AMD, Intel's integrated graphics solution ships (or in the case of Ivy Bridge, will ship) in pretty much any x86 device and form factor, and if 4k video processing becomes a standard feature, it'll make overwhelming sense for hardware makers to step their efforts up and provide screens capable of it. In fact, Intel's so confident of its processor's HD-handling powers that it claims it'll be possible to run multiple 4k video streams at the same time. We'll have to wait and see that one before we believe it.