Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' CPUs Are Here

intel logoAlthough the news has been spreading around the web for the past several day today marks the official release of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processor architecture or what the company calls its "second-generation Core processors."

Today at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel highlighted several new features, services and partnerships that combine to deliver an entirely new visual experience with processor graphics built in. Intel claims that more than 500 desktop and laptop PCs are expected from all major OEMs worldwide throughout the next year.

With their announcement Intel has officially released the product sku's of more than 20 processors as well as , wireless adapters and chipsets, including new Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel 6 Series Chipsets, and Intel Centrino WiFi and WiMAX adapters.

Sandy Bridge represents the latest in Intel's development strategy. The new chips are based on the 32nm "Westmere" die shrink of about a year ago, but introduces new technologies, features and capabilities that neither Westmere nor the previous "Nehalem," could claim.

"The new 2nd Generation Intel Core processors represent the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, PC Client Group, Intel. "The built-in visual capabilities enabled by these new processors are stunning. This, combined with improved adaptive performance, will revolutionize the PC experience in a way that is obvious for every user to see and appreciate – visibly smarter performance."

With Sandy Bridge, Intel claims that mainstream PCs will be able to perform a wider variety of actions, all while consuming less power. Intel has put particular focus on the CPUs' media prowess, from its built-in DirectX 10.1 capabilities to new programming that Intel has promised will considerably improve video transcoding, photo editing, and other similar tasks (such as watching Blu-ray 3D content).

Additional changes in Sandy Bridge also include a major revamping of Turbo Boost, which can improve performance even more for short periods of time, and new Advanced Vector Extensions driving floating point–intensive application performance.

Sandy Bridge What You Need To Know

For starters the company hasn't dropped its "Core" designation for its CPU lineup: You'll still see some of the older Core i3, i5, and i7 branded chips on the market. These older chips are still going to be based on the LGA-1156 and older LGA-1366 sockets. The new '2nd generation' chips will share the 'Core' branding and similar designation however they will not be based on the older sockets. They will require an entirely new motherboard with a new socket LGA-1155 cpu socket. These new motherboards will now feature the Intel 6 Series Chipsets. Mainly the performance-focused P67, the integrated graphics-focused H67 and the entry-level H61.

To keep the confusion over the two generation chips to a minimum Intel has added a few naming features. The number immediately following the "i" modifier will be followed by a "2" to indicate that said CPU is a part of the Sandy Bridge family, as it's a second-generation CPU. The following three numbers will indicate the specific processor SKU, so you will now see designations like Core i7-2600K, Core i5-2500K, Core i5-2400, And Core i3-2100. The letters appended to the end- "K", "S", or "T" will detail whether the CPU is unlocked for overclocking, optimized for "lifestyle" computing, or optimized for power-savings.

For the new Sandy Bridge chips Intel has optimized Intel Turbo Boost Technology to provide even more performance when needed. Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 automatically allows processor cores to run faster than the base operating frequency if it's operating below power, current, and temperature specification limits.

For the layman out there what this means is the chips will effectively 'turbo up' when more power is needed. Overclocking the chips as much as 10-15% when more power is needed and throttle the chips back down when its not.

Newer better graphics right from your cpu. That's right with Sandy Bridge Intel has design the chips to have better video support featuring DirectX 10.1. The new chips sports completely redesigned video and media subsystems that Intel claims will greatly increase performance in everyday computing as well as more specialized tasks like video editing and transcoding. There's built-in support for a wide variety of popular video codecs, as well as accelerators for commonly used filters like scaling and removing noise.

This new 'on-chip' GPU design won't be a powerhouse and shouldn't be expected to replace a discreet GPU (and probably won't be good for gaming) however Intel boasts that the new execution units present in its Sandy Bridge GPU not only come at more than twenty times the power of Intel's Generation-5 graphics, but that the cards themselves should rival integrated (and even entry-level discrete) graphics from Nvidia and ATI.

Other new features include Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), Intel InTru 3-D, and Intel Clear Video Technology HD. Intel InTru 3-D enables immersive stereoscopic 3-D to 3-D-capable HDTVs or monitors via HDMI 1.4.

Intel Sandy Bridge Reviews:

Source: Intel Press Release

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