The Roadmap

The roadmap for mobile is a lot easier to read through than the desktop one. There aren't as many competing products within a given price class. I've put together the Q3 2010 - Q3 2011 mobile CPU roadmap below, but I've left out the value segments. Sandy Bridge won't make it down there until late next year at this point, so Celerons are off limits for now.

If you're an Apple user the parts you'll want to pay attention to are the 2620, 2540 and 2520 - these will likely be in the next 15-inch MacBook Pro. Clock speeds are up slightly compared to what Apple is shipping today, which means you'll probably see at least a 10%+ performance improvement across the board. I'd expect that number to grow to as high as 15 - 20% depending on the application.


Click to Enlarge

I don't believe Apple will abandon NVIDIA as a result of Sandy Bridge's vastly improved graphics given SB's lack of OpenCL support.

Final Words

Sandy Bridge looks to be very capable, both on the desktop and mobile side. Both CPU and GPU performance are much improved, the latter particularly in notebooks as all launch mobile Sandy Bridge parts will ship with the higher end 12 EU configuration. Intel is clearly going after the low hanging fruit in the GPU market, though I'm curious to see how far upstream Intel will push its advance.

It's not very hard for Intel to more than double integrated graphics performance. The question is how will it compare to AMD's Llano, a part that will undoubtedly have a competant GPU but a CPU core based on AMD's Phenom II architecture. 2011 is going to be an exciting time for the semiconductor market.

The Processors
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  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Optimus is a totally different animal than normal hybrid graphics switching.

    In normal switchable graphics, you have to have extra hardware components--multiplexers--to switch the data moving from each GPU to the display.

    With Optimus, nvidia skipped this step by having the data spat out by the discrete GPU copied over to the IGP, which is always connected to the display. This *does* mean that the IGP is always on (and the discrete GPU is only on when it's used) but it means that switching can be totally seamless.

    Driver support is the thing that bothers me the most. With Optimus you don't have to worry, because Optimus drivers are baked right into nvidia's Verde package. With other switchable graphics, there is an issue for driver compatibility there.

    I hope AMD nails down a switchable graphics standard soon so that we don't have to worry about driver issues with AMD switchable graphics.
    Reply
  • GTVic - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    The 2820 and 2620 would seem to be good choice for a mobile workstation but the current i7-620M and i7-720QM are also 35W and 45W respectively so not much power saving but maybe there is some saving with the integrated graphics???. Would be nice to get more battery time on a mobile workstation and less weight? Reply
  • erple2 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    TDP only gives a mild understanding of power consumption, not in how much power the CPU uses in practice. The power numbers of the desktop parts share the same TDP as the previous socket 1156 CPUs, but pull less power under load... Reply
  • Roland00 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    One reason that I can see Intel putting a dedicated part of the cpu related to transcoding is due to Intel eventually doing a big push for Intel Wireless Display. The 1st gen of the technology has been out for a little over 6 months. It is limited to 1280x800 or lower resolutions at 30fps at a range of 20ft (line of sight.)

    With dedicated transcoding intel can possibly compress the video stream on the fly and send it to the proprietary receiver that is hooked up to the TV via component or hdmi. With the right compression it is possible in theory to get 1080p at 30fps with a decent bit rate if everything works correctly. The problem is that many companies have tried so far, and to my knowledge no one's solution works correctly 98% of the time. Hopefully Intel can get this up to the 98%.
    Reply
  • Overmind - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - link

    Apple will probably go for Radeons. Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - link

    There's always one, isn't there? Reply
  • ClagMaster - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - link

    How am I going to compare the performance of these new processors with the Q6600 on a G965 chipset since all of the benchmarks have changed?

    I upgrade after the following preconditions apply:

    1) I have owned my current PC for 3 years and have recouped my investment
    2) I can upgrade to new equipment that has double the capacity for the same cost.
    3) The power draw is the same or less.

    You need to compare some popular CPU's such as the socket 775 Q6600 and Q9650 to give upgraders a clearer picture of what the REAL performance gains are over the legacy hardware
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - link

    I believe Anandtech does this at every new RELEASE of major hardware. I seem to remember comparison charts of old-school P4 and single/dual core Athlon systems put in to give a good idea of how much improved the WHOLE PLATFORM performs. Since these last 2 SandyBridge articles are basically previews it makes sense that there isn't a more detailed comparison.

    But I do agree it needs to happen. I think we can safely ditch the P4 numbers and have the bottom-tier be single/dual Athlon XP systems (and even that is pretty darn old), then have a Q6600 based system, and finally a Nehelem based system. That should give a good idea of improvements in both performance and power consumption.
    Reply
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - link

    Thank you.

    Adding some popular processors such as the Q6600 would be beneficial.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    FWIW C-Net, in this article, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20016302-64.html
    claims that SB does have OpenCL 1.1 support.
    Reply

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