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.

Panther Point Chipsets
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  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    That would make sense. It looks like Intel has switched their product release cycles. Before, it was high-end chips first and then mainstream chips later on (at least this was the case with Nehalem, I'm too lazy today to check anything older that that :D). Now it is the vice versa. Mainstream chips in H1 and high-end/enterprise in H2.

    This make sense though since enterprise level stuff is more complex and thus needs more time and money to be designed, tested etc.
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    It does make sense in some ways, the other half though is that there're lots of people who bought 2500/2600K systems that probably would've bought LGA2011 quads at the higher margins if the high end part launched first.
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    Lets say someone drops an Ivy Bridge CPU in an existing 6 series motherboard, could it run at DDR3-1600 or only at 1333? Technically, the memory controller is in the CPU die, so it sounds reasonable to say it would do 1600. On the other hand though, the motherboard would have to be able to handle the speed and would doubtlessly have some sort of UEFI settings related to it. Any thoughts here?
  • don_k - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    Personally I want to see confirmation that Ivy Bridge will be on X79 (in good time) otherwise there would be no hesitation. But I forsee a dead end for X79 like with X58 and I just don't like it. If IB won't be on X79 quickly enough and IB turns out to be quite a bit faster at a smaller process.. but that means waiting for IB. Bloody hell
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 7, 2011 - link

    Don't expect LGA 2011 Ivy Bridges before H2 2012. SB-E is Q4'11 so Intel won't release IB-E in Q1'12.
  • don_k - Saturday, May 7, 2011 - link

    Yup, that's what I gathered. Frankly I don't see any point in LGA 2011 if, as I expect, IB is much faster than SB at the same clock speeds. You then get to wait for IB while the supposedly more 'mainstream' platform is faster than the high-end platform.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 7, 2011 - link

    I would say the primary market for LGA 2011 parts is the enterprise market. The mainstream products (LGA 1155) lack many necessary features (PCIe lanes, ECC, DP setups...) that are required by servers and higher-end workstations. While there is Xeon E3-1200 lineup, it does not offer more than four cores and there is no option for DP setup either.

    For enterprises, the raw CPU performance is not always the number one concern. Fast I/O options are usually crucial and the 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes provided by mainstream SB may not be enough for those needs. In most cases, the performance per watt is also essential, especially in servers which are online 24/7. That is why Xeon lineups often offer low-power options.

    From consumer's standpoint, SB-E may look like it makes no sense but in the end, it is not really aimed at them. There will be few CPUs for enthusiasts but other than that, it's solely Xeons.
  • Casper42 - Friday, May 6, 2011 - link

    I really wanna slap someone over at Intel in their Marketing Dept.

    Why isnt this new chipset simply the X69?
    did all the engineer's giggle too much or do they somehow think the SB-E NB/PCH is magically next generation because its taking so long to release.

    If you're not including USB3 or LightPeak, it doesn't deserve to be a new generation.

    Its bad enough there will be 4 different sockets for Servers next year, and I'm sure at least a dozen procs per socket (except maybe on the ultra high end, half dozen there more likely)
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, May 8, 2011 - link

    According to VR-Zone, 20GB "Larsen Creek" SSD will be 119$. 40GB X25-M/310 series is cheaper than that!
  • DanaG - Sunday, May 8, 2011 - link

    Anyone know if the Ivy Bridge IGP is supposed to support 120Hz desktop? I don't expect true stereoscopic 3D on it, but it'd be nice for a 3D laptop to not switch from 120 to 60 when running on IGP.
    120Hz would also be helpful for playing 24FPS blu-ray.

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