The Test

As was the case with Lynnfield, the current Sandy Bridge CPUs Intel is sampling are slightly different than what will be sold. The Core i5 2400 runs at 3.1GHz, has four cores, 6MB of L3 cache but no Hyper Threading. In order to help Intel’s partners test HT functionality however, the i5 2400s being sampled right now have Hyper Threading enabled. For the purposes of our test I’ve run with HT both enabled (to give you an idea of higher end SB parts) and disabled (to give you an idea of i5 2400 performance).

The other major difference between what’s out today and what’s coming in Q1 is turbo. Early Sandy Bridge samples, ours included, do not have turbo enabled. The CPU simply runs at 3.1GHz all the time, regardless of workload. The final retail 2400 will be able to run at up to 3.4GHz.

In other words, what we show here should be indicative of final performance, but it's probably slower than what will ship in Q1.


Click to Enlarge

On the GPU side, the part I’m testing appears to be the single-core GPU configuration (6 EUs). Intel hasn’t released any info as to what parts will get the dual-core/12 EUs GPU configurations, although it may make sense for Intel to use the 12 EU parts in notebooks given the importance of integrated graphics to the mobile market. Update: The part we're looking at may actually have been a lower clocked 12 EU part, we're still waiting for additional confirmation.

Our test platform was a H67 based motherboard running with 4GB of DDR3-1333, the same memory we use in our Lynnfield testbeds.

I’m comparing to four other CPUs. The Core i7 980X for a high end comparison, the Core i7 880 for a near clock-for-clock comparison (albeit with HT enabled), the Core i5 760 for a potential price comparison and the Phenom II X6 1090T. The latter should be AMD’s fastest offering (if not close to it) when Sandy Bridge ships. Update: Note the Core i5 650 is actually the predecessor to the Core i5 2400, however I didn't feel a dual core vs. quad core comparison was too fair. The i5 760 will actually go head to head with the higher clocked i5 2500 when it launches in Q1.

Motherboard: ASUS P7H57DV- EVO (Intel H57)
Intel DP55KG (Intel P55)
Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280 (Vista 64)
ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 9.12 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Windows 7 x64
Overclocking Controversy Sandy Bridge Integrated Graphics Performance
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  • Touche - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    And the naming...OMG!

    There will be i7 processors that require three (3 !!!) different sockets! Maybe even 4 when 2011 comes. Intel can't get their naming right for quite some time now, but they've outdone themselves this time.
    Reply
  • ereavis - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Processor names really should mean something, even if AMD and Intel don't agree. It's annoying that I have to wikipedia a processor (or memorize a thousand processors) to know what it is. We are still getting quotes for three year old Opterons and Xeons (that we're using as desktops no less), those only add to the annoyance.

    What ends up happening - good for Intel bad for technology advancement - is non IT type people buying computers are buying DDR2-667 based three-year old desktop processors.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Ummm, but Bulldozer comes with AM3-r2... Just a sketchier way of saying new MB needed.

    At least this new Intel isn't trying to BS you. Significant revisions to the architecture require different pin layouts/counts... It is inevitable with processor evolution.
    Reply
  • Touche - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Actually, it should be AM3 compatible:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/bulldozer-bobc...

    Even if it's not, AM2/AM3 lasted quite some time.

    "At least this new Intel isn't trying to BS you. Significant revisions to the architecture require different pin layouts/counts... It is inevitable with processor evolution."

    They know in advance what they need and could design a socket to support multiple processors. And i7/i5/i3 definitely don't need different ones.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    "Even if it's not, AM2/AM3 lasted quite some time."

    Not all AM2 processors were compatible with AM2+ MB or vice versa, not all AM3 processors compatible on AM2+ MB.

    It's still 3 different sockets.

    Marketing buddy, marketing.

    By the time 1366 is replaced, it will have been on the market for 4 years.
    Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    Eh, no its not. Bulldozer does NOT work with non-AM3+ mobos

    AMD engineers made a decision not to make it backward compatible for three reasons.

    (1) No one but enthusiasts upgrade their CPUs. People in the real world upgrade their whole computer.

    (2) Bulldozer introduces new features that won't work with existing Socket AM3 mobos. (Isn't it bloody obvious when they have to introduce a new socket specification?)

    (3) It would cost more money and delays if they were to make a backward compatible version of Bulldozer.

    As a result, they made a compromise:
    You can take your existing AM3 CPU to AM3+ mobos, while you wait for Bulldozer to arrive. BUT, you can NOT upgrade your existing AM3 based system to Bulldozer.

    Simply put...
    AM3+ CPU and AM3+ mobo = OK
    AM3 CPU and AM3+ mobo = OK
    AM3+ CPU and AM3 mobo = Sorry. No.

    So it doesn't matter if AMD "Bulldozer" or Intel "Sandy Bridge". You will need a new mobo.
    Reply
  • Ard - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    AMD seriously has their work cut out for them with Bulldozer. The lowest end Sandy Bridge processor absolutely trounced the competition. It's insane what Intel is pulling off here, especially in the integrated graphics arena. Really makes me hope Larrabee comes back as a discrete product in the next few years. Reply
  • dgz - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    poor kid, you don't realize 2400 is not nearly lowest end. Reply
  • Finally - Sunday, August 29, 2010 - link

    Doesn't that make him a "(filthy) rich kid"? Reply
  • Quodlibet - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    - based on the shown roadmap, the replacement for the i5 760 is actually the i5 2500(K).

    - i7 will have even better performance with 8 MB L3 Cache and higher graphics turbo. So there is even more performance potential in the SandyBridge die that Intel could unlock for lower SKUs if needed.
    Reply

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