Ivy Bridge processor and socket 2011/X68 chipset
The Sandy Bridge processors are not significantly faster than the Nehalems, and they only had dual-channel memory. There is a noticeable difference in performance, but it really isn't worth upgrading.
Hopefully, the HUGE performance boost will be with the 8-core/22nm "Ivy Bridge" processors. I am curious if any official information is yet available about the "X68" chipset. What are some of the new features on this chipset? I've heard rumors of a PCIe 3.0 x32, more than twice the QPI (BUS) speed, and even quad-channel memory. It is important to note that the Ivy Bridge will be a 22nm shrink of the current Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.
I would also imagine the 3rd generation of DX11 graphics cards from ATI and Nvidia (HD 7xxx/GTX 6xx) will be available by then.
Hopefully, the Ivy Bridge processors will offer a performance boost similar to going from a C2Q to a Nehalem.