Despite having its best year ever, Intel says the best is yet to come with the official debut of its second generation core i7 processor, also known as Sandy Bridge.

The company unveiled Sandy Bridge at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Intel chief executive officer Paul Otellini said the new microprocessor, which features 3-D graphics and media engine capabilities on one chip, is the most exciting the company has ever built.

The Sandy Bridge processor is the first 32 nanometer-based chip in the industry, he said, making it the fastest ever. This allows for not only higher performance, but reduced power consumption for better battery life and smaller designs, and lower overall manufacturing costs. It's all about the visual experience, Otellini said. Our tag-line for it is it's visibly smart.

It comes with several new video-friendly features including Intel Insider, which allows people to securely watch 1080p HD studio-released movies on their PC. It also features quick sync video, which allows for fast transcoding. This lets users take DVD or blu-ray discs and edit and convert video files to their portable media player. Intel claims that a video tht used to take four minutes to transfer to an iPod can now be done in 16 seconds. It also has updated WiDi, which lets users take HD content from their laptop to their TV.

The new 2nd generation Intel core processor represents the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel.

For example, in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet work, Eden said it is 833 percent faster than the previous generation. For slideshow work, it is 333 percent faster. Eden also said the graphics capabilites on Sandy Bridge, which had been in development since 2006, are better than 40-50 percent of the discrete graphic chips on the market. To attest to its power, Eden called up video game developer Valve's chief executive officer, Gabe Newell, to the stage.

It's a real game changer for us, Newell said. This allows for a console like experience on the PC. Newell said his company developed its upcoming game, Portal 2, with the sandy bridge processor in mind.

For Intel Insider, Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Home Entertainment Group president, joined Eden to vouch for its ability. He says prior to Sandy Bridge, Warner Bros. never saw a secure enough link to justify putting its content on the PC.

Warner Bros. sees the PC as one of the most broadly available and versatile platforms for delivering premium digital entertainment, and now that Intel has made it more secure, we're able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC through our WBShop storefront and from partners like CinemaNow on the same day as DVD and blu-ray releases, Tsujihara said.

Along with Sandy Bridge, Intel announced more than 20 processors, wireless adapters and chipsets. Otellini expects more than 500 desktop and laptops to ship based on these products.

However, the company has its highest hopes set for Sandy Bridge as Otellini said it will account for one-third of its revenue in 2011 alone and generate $125 billion revenue for the PC industry all together.