The Lineup

I don’t include a lot of super markety slides in these launch reviews, but this one is worthy of a mention:

Sandy Bridge is launching with no less than 29 different SKUs today. That’s 15 for mobile and 14 for desktop. Jarred posted his full review of the mobile Core i7-2820QM, so check that out if you want the mobile perspective on all of this.

By comparison, this time last year Intel announced 11 mobile Arrandale CPUs and 7 desktop parts. A year prior we got Lynnfield with 3 SKUs and Clarksfield with 3 as well. That Sandy Bridge is Intel’s biggest launch ever goes without saying. It’s also the most confusing. While Core i7 exclusively refers to processors with 4 or more cores (on the desktop at least), Core i5 can mean either 2 or 4 cores. Core i3 is reserved exclusively for dual-core parts.

Intel promised that the marketing would all make sense one day. Here we are, two and a half years later, and the Core i-branding is no clearer. At the risk of upsetting all of Intel Global Marketing, perhaps we should return to just labeling these things with their clock speeds and core counts? After all, it’s what Apple does—and that’s a company that still refuses to put more than one button on its mice. Maybe it’s worth a try.

Check Jarred’s article out for the mobile lineup, but on desktop here’s how it breaks down:

Processor Core Clock Cores / Threads L3 Cache Max Turbo Max Overclock Multiplier TDP Price
Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.8GHz 57x 95W $317
Intel Core i7-2600 3.4GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.8GHz 42x 95W $294
Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.7GHz 57x 95W $216
Intel Core i5-2500 3.3GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.7GHz 41x 95W $205
Intel Core i5-2400 3.1GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.4GHz 38x 95W $184
Intel Core i5-2300 2.8GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.1GHz 34x 95W $177
Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz 2 / 4 3MB N/A N/A 65W $138
Intel Core i3-2100 2.93GHz 2 / 4 3MB N/A N/A 65W $117

Intel is referring to these chips as the 2nd generation Core processor family, despite three generations of processors carrying the Core architecture name before it (Conroe, Nehalem, and Westmere). The second generation is encapsulated in the model numbers for these chips. While all previous generation Core processors have three digit model numbers, Sandy Bridge CPUs have four digit models. The first digit in all cases is a 2, indicating that these are “2nd generation” chips and the remaining three are business as usual. I’d expect that Ivy Bridge will swap out the 2 for a 3 next year.

What you will see more of this time around are letter suffixes following the four digit model number. K means what it did last time: a fully multiplier unlocked part (similar to AMD’s Black Edition). The K-series SKUs are even more important this time around as some Sandy Bridge CPUs will ship fully locked, as in they cannot be overclocked at all (more on this later).

Processor Core Clock Cores / Threads L3 Cache Max Turbo TDP
Intel Core i7-2600S 2.8GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.8GHz 65W
Intel Core i5-2500S 2.7GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.7GHz 65W
Intel Core i5-2500T 2.3GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.3GHz 45W
Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz 4 / 4 6MB 3.3GHz 65W
Intel Core i5-2390T 2.7GHz 2 / 4 3MB 3.5GHz 35W
Intel Core i5-2100T 2.5GHz 2 / 4 3MB N/A 35W

There are also T and S series parts for desktop. These are mostly aimed at OEMs building small form factor or power optimized boxes. The S stands for “performance optimized lifestyle” and the T for “power optimized lifestyle”. In actual terms the Ses are lower clocked 65W parts while the Ts are lower clocked 35W or 45W parts. Intel hasn’t disclosed pricing on either of these lines but expect them to carry noticeable premiums over the standard chips. There’s nothing new about this approach; both AMD and Intel have done it for a little while now, it’s just more prevalent in Sandy Bridge than before.

More Differentiation

In the old days Intel would segment chips based on clock speed and cache size. Then Intel added core count and Hyper Threading to the list. Then hardware accelerated virtualization. With Sandy Bridge the matrix grows even bigger thanks to the on-die GPU.

Processor Intel HD Graphics Graphics Max Turbo Quick Sync VT-x VT-d TXT AES-NI
Intel Core i7-2600K 3000 1350MHz Y Y N N Y
Intel Core i7-2600 2000 1350MHz Y Y Y Y Y
Intel Core i5-2500K 3000 1100MHz Y Y N N Y
Intel Core i5-2500 2000 1100MHz Y Y Y Y Y
Intel Core i5-2400 2000 1100MHz Y Y Y Y Y
Intel Core i5-2300 2000 1100MHz Y Y N N Y
Intel Core i3-2120 2000 1100MHz Y N N N N
Intel Core i3-2100 2000 1100MHz Y N N N Y

While almost all SNB parts support VT-x (the poor i3s are left out), only three support VT-d. Intel also uses AES-NI as a reason to force users away from the i3 and towards the i5. I’ll get into the difference in GPUs in a moment.

Introduction Overclocking: Effortless 4.4GHz+ on Air
POST A COMMENT

282 Comments

View All Comments

  • Melted Rabbit - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    It wouldn't surprise me if that was intentional. I would hope that Anandtech reviewers were not letting companies dictate how their products were to be reviewed lest AT be denied future prerelease hardware. I can't tell from where I sit and there appears to be no denial that stating there is no such interference.

    In addition, real world benchmarks aside from games looks to be absent. Seriously, I don't use my computer for offline 3D rendering and I suspect that very few other readers do to any significant degree.

    Also, isn't SYSMark 2007 a broken, misleading benchmark? It was compiled on Intel's compiler, you know the broken one that degrades performance on AMD and VIA processors unnecessarily. Also there is this bit that Intel has to include with its comparisons that use BAPco(Intel) benchmarks that include Intel's processors with comparisons to AMD or VIA processors:

    Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchase, including the performance of that product when combined with other products.

    It isn't perfect, but that is what the FTC and Intel agreed to, and until new benchmarks are released by BAPco that do not inflict poor performance on non-Intel processors, the results are not reliable. I don't see any problem if the graph did not contain AMD processors, but that isn't what we have here. If you are curious, for better or for worse, BAPco is a non-profit organization controlled by Intel.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Hardware vendors have no input into how we test, nor do they stipulate that we must test a certain way in order to receive future pre-release hardware. I should also add that should a vendor "cut us off" (it has happened in the past), we have many ways around getting supplied by them directly. In many cases, we'd actually be able to bring you content sooner as we wouldn't be held by NDAs but it just makes things messier overall.

    Either way, see my response above for why the 1100T is absent from some tests. It's the same reason that the Core i7 950 is absent from some tests, maintaining Bench and adding a bunch of new benchmarks meant that not every test is fully populated with every configuration.

    As far as your request for more real world benchmarks, we include a lot of video encoding, file compression/decompression, 3D rendering and even now a compiler test. But I'm always looking for more, if there's a test out there you'd like included let me know! Users kept on asking for compiler benchmarks which is how the VS2008 test got in there, the same applies to other types of tests.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Melted Rabbit - Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - link

    Thanks for replying to my comment. I was understand why the review was missing some benchmarks for processors like the 1100T. I was also a bit hasty in my accusations with respect to interference from manufacturers, which I apologize for.

    I still have trouble with including benchmarks compiled on the Intel compiler without a warning or explanation of what they mean. It really isn't a benchmark with meaningful results if the 1100T is used x87 code and the Core i7-2600K used SSE2/SSE3 code. I would have no problem with reporting results for benchmarks compiled with Intel's defective compiler, like SYSmark 2007 and Cinebench R10 assuming they did not include results for AMD or VIA processors along with an explanation of why they were not applicable to AMD and VIA processors. However, not giving context to such results I find problematic.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Sysmark2k7 is like the various 3dmark benches. Mostly useless but with a large enough fanbase that running it is less hassle than dealing with all the whining fanboi's/ Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    There are a few holes in the data we produce for Bench, I hope to fill them after I get back from CES next week :) You'll notice there are some cases where there's some Intel hardware missing from benchmarks as well (e.g. Civ V).

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Lazlo Panaflex - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Thanks Anand :-) Reply
  • MeSh1 - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Seems Intel did everything right for these to fit snuggly into next gen macs. Everthing nicely integrated into one chip and the encode/trascode speed boost is icing on the cake (If supported of course) being that Apple is content focused. Nice addition if youre a mac user. Reply
  • Doormat - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Except for the whole thing about not knowing if the GPU is going to support OpenCL. I've heard Intel is writing OpenCL drivers for possibly a GPU/CPU hybrid, or utilizing the new AVX instructions for CPU-only OpenCL.

    Other than that, the AT mobile SNB review included a last-gen Apple MBP 13" and the HD3000 graphics could keep up with the Nvidia 320M - it was equal to or ahead in low-detail settings and equal or slightly behind in medium detail settings. Considering Nvidia isn't going to rev the 320M again, Apple may as well switch over to the HD3000 now and then when Ivy Bridge hits next year, hopefully Intel can deliver a 50% perf gain in hardware alone from going to 18 EUs (and maybe their driver team can kick in some performance there too).
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    The increased power efficiency might allow Apple to squeeze a GPU onto their smaller laptop boards without loosing runtime due to the smaller battery. Reply
  • yuhong - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    "Unlike P55, you can set your SATA controller to compatible/legacy IDE mode. This is something you could do on X58 but not on P55. It’s useful for running HDDERASE to secure erase your SSD for example"
    Or running old OSes.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now