Last week, we told you about Sandy Bridge-E and X79 chipset. Today, we have a lot of interesting news about other Intel products, including a look at the Ivy Bridge platform and upcoming SSDs. Intel still isn’t taking the wraps off of their Ivy Bridge architecture, but yesterday’s 3D Tri-Gate announcement certainly changes the expectations.

Ivy Bridge

Ivy Bridge will be a die shrink of Sandy Bridge and represents a “tick” in  Intel’s product line. That means the micro-architecture is mostly the same as Sandy Bridge, but it will be manufactured using 22nm process instead of 32nm. That will bring lower power consumption and thus less heat while keeping the same performance level. Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on core counts, clock speeds, model numbers, cache sizes, or the IGP. At the same core counts as SNB, we might see some fairly high clock speeds (>4GHz, anyone?) since current quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs already offer Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, and adding additional cache to the design is almost a given. Intel is putting additional resources into their IGP as well, so we expect to see some healthy performance and capability improvements.

Sandy Bridge versus Ivy Bridge
  Sandy Bridge Ivy Bridge
Manufacturing process 32nm 22nm
Transistor technology 2D (Planar) 3D (Tri-Gate)
PCI-Express (version) 16 lanes (2.0) 16 lanes (3.0)
Turbo Boost version 2.0 2.0
Memory support Up to DDR3-1333 Up to DDR3-1600
Quick Sync 1.0 2.0 (?)
DirectX 10.1 11
IGP shader count Up to 12 EUs Up to 16 EUs (?)
OpenGL 3.0 3.1 (?)
OpenCL N/A 1.1 (?)

The table above summarizes most of the currently known differences. Ivy Bridge will have enhanced AVX support, the on-die PCI-Express graphics links become version 3.0 instead of SNB’s 2.0, and official memory speed support from the IMC gets bumped to DDR3-1600. While we won’t know about the power consumption until we actually get to test an IB CPU, the roadmap lists TDPs that are the same as SNB (95W, 65W, 45W, 35W). The shrink to 22nm and 3D transistors (FinFET) almost represents a two-node process technology jump, so we expect performance at various power levels to increase quite a bit. A final interesting point for many users is that Ivy Bridge is pin compatible with Sandy Bridge, and it will work on current LGA1155 motherboards with the appropriate chipset and a firmware and BIOS update (H61, H67, P67, and Z68 are capable of support IB). Intel will also launch new 7-series chipsets, which we’ll get into below.

Wrapping up the discussion of improvements, let’s focus on the IGP a bit more. As with Sandy Bridge, we expect Intel will have several IGP variants with Ivy Bridge’s graphics. We don’t know what they will be, but we do know that Intel is calling it their “next Gen Intel HD Graphics” and the core GPU will be DX11 capable. It also looks like Intel will add OpenCL 1.1 support and increase the maximum number of EUs from 12 to 16, though either of those elements may change. Intel lists “Next Gen Quick Sync” as another feature, and with the increase in EU count and additional functionality Ivy Bridge might be double the speed of SNB when it comes to transcoding video.

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  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    Ah, that could be the reason. I know some laptops that will sell you DDR3-1600, but only if you don't use four DIMMs (look at the mobile workstations from Dell and HP). Still, it's odd considering enthusiasts have run far higher than DDR3-1600 speeds. Oh well.
  • dagamer34 - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    It'll be interesting to see what Intel does with the added die space that 3D manufacturing gives them. Already, the largest singular part of SNB is the GPU, dwarfing the size of any individual CPU core. Hopefully we'll get something that's better than their previous offerings.
  • duploxxx - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    probably the GPU performance will enhance a lot, lets hope they get into the range of basic gaming gpu, but the main problem is that by the time that IVY arrives the AMD APU Fusion series will also have launched there second gen, and it is known already that this will be much more powerfull.
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    It's not just that, by the time IB has launched TSMC should have it's 28nm process working which means that AMD/nVidia's discrete cards will be twice as fast (twice the transistor density) leaving the IGPs back in the dust again.

    SB's IGP wouldn't look as good as it did if TSMC's 32 nm process hadn't been scrapped giving intel a half node advantage. They'll have the same with IB, but only going from 12 to 16 EUs makes it likely they're using a big chunk of the gain to cut costs instead of boosting performance.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    It doesn't matter how fast IGP's are compared to discrete graphics (it never has been). What matters is if the IGP allows for playable framerates at common desktop/notebook resolutions (we're talking 1280X1024 19" and similar widescreen resolutions). People with 1080p and higher resolutions won't be gaming on these, the other 95% of people that go to Best Buy and Dell to get a system will be.

    And we need these "awesome" IGP's now. They maintain the bottom teir graphics that development houses still have to cater too (and consoles). Once those graphics capabilities become "good enough" for moderate resolutions the game makers can finally start cranking up the graphics quality and giving these new cards a workout.

    I've never gamed on an IGP and never plan too, but I understand just how important they are to us gamers.
  • brokenbeaker - Saturday, May 7, 2011 - link

    3D doesn't give them extra spece, it's the process shrink that does that. 3D gives them higher "on" current and less leakage current.
  • Drazick - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    When Intel get back to the SSD Controllers business?
    Will we see Intel Based Controller SSD this year?

  • imaheadcase - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    That is the one everyone wants, less power/cheaper..
  • Marlin1975 - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    Let me guess, those that bought X67/8 chipsets will have to buy another board to use IB?

    Not that intel would ever do that.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    X67/68 do not exist. Z68 will come out soon, and like P67/H67 and a few others we mention, they will support Ivy Bridge with the appropriate firmware/BIOS updates. (That will be more a factor of the motherboard manufacturers taking time to update the firmware than anything.) X58 will be replaced by X79, which as we noted in an earlier article is a completely different socket.

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