Final Words

Based on these early numbers, Ivy Bridge is pretty much right where we expected it on the CPU side. You're looking at a 5 - 15% increase in CPU performance over Sandy Bridge at a similar price point. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed by the gains we've seen here today. It's quite difficult to get tangible IPC improvements from a modern architecture these days, particularly on such a strict nearly-annual basis. For a tick in Intel's cadence, Ivy Bridge is quite good. It feels a lot like Penryn did after Conroe, but better.

The improvement on the GPU side is significant. Although not nearly the jump we saw going to Sandy Bridge last year. Ivy's GPU finally puts Intel's processor graphics into the realm of reasonable for a system with low end GPU needs. Based on what we've seen, discrete GPUs below the $50 - $60 mark don't make sense if you've got Intel's HD 4000 inside your system. The discrete market above $100 remains fairly safe however.

With Ivy Bridge you aren't limited to playing older titles, although you are still limited to relatively low quality settings on newer games. If you're willing to trade off display resolution you can reach a much better balance. We are finally able to deliver acceptable performance at or above 1366 x 768. With the exception of Metro 2033, the games we tested even showed greater than 30 fps at 1680 x 1050. The fact that we were able to run Crysis: Warhead at 1680 x 1050 at over 50 fps on free graphics from Intel is sort of insane when you think about where Intel was just a few years ago.

Whether or not this is enough for mainstream gaming really depends on your definition of that segment of the market. Being able to play brand new titles at reasonable frame rates as realistic resolutions is a bar that Intel has safely met. I hate to sound like a broken record but Ivy Bridge continues Intel's march in the right direction when it comes to GPU performance. Personally, I want more and I suspect that Haswell will deliver much of that. It is worth pointing out that Intel is progressing at a faster rate than the discrete GPU industry at this point. Admittedly the gap is downright huge, but from what I've heard even the significant gains we're seeing here with Ivy will pale in comparison to what Haswell provides.

What Ivy Bridge does not appear to do is catch up to AMD's A8-series Llano APU. It narrows the gap, but for systems whose primary purpose is gaming AMD will still likely hold a significant advantage with Trinity. The fact that Ivy Bridge hasn't progressed enough to challenge AMD on the GPU side is good news. The last thing we need is for a single company to dominate on both fronts. At least today we still have some degree of competition in the market. To Intel's credit however, it's just as unlikely that AMD will surpass Intel in CPU performance this next round with Trinity. Both sides are getting more competitive, but it still boils down to what matters more to you: GPU or CPU performance. Similarly, there's also the question of which one (CPU or GPU) approaches "good enough" first. I suspect the answer to this is going to continue to vary wildly depending on the end user.

The power savings from 22nm are pretty good on the desktop. Under heavy CPU load we measured a ~30W decrease in total system power consumption compared to a similar Sandy Bridge part. If this is an indication of what we can expect from notebooks based on Ivy Bridge I'd say you shouldn't expect significant gains in battery life under light workloads, but you may see improvement in worst case scenario battery life. For example, in our Mac battery life suite we pegged the Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro at around 2.5 hours of battery life in our heavy multitasking scenario. That's the number I'd expect to see improve with Ivy Bridge. We only had a short amount of time with the system and couldn't validate Intel's claims of significant gains in GPU power efficiency but we'll hopefully be able to do that closer to launch.

There's still more to learn about Ivy Bridge, including how it performs as a notebook chip. If the results today are any indication, it should be a good showing all around. Lower power consumption and better performance at the same price as last year's parts - it's the Moore's Law way. There's not enough of an improvement to make existing SNB owners want to upgrade, but if you're still clinging to an old Core 2 (or earlier) system, Ivy will be a great step forward.

QuickSync Performance
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  • sabot00 - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    How long will Intel keep its HD Graphics increases? Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I don't understand the logic of selling a high end CPU with the best IGP. Seems like anyone running an it isn't going to stick with the IGP for games, and if they aren't gaming, then what good is that high-end GPU? Maybe the entire "Core i" line should use the HD 4000. Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Because the low end chips are just die-harvested high end chips it makes sense. No reason to disable it so they leave it on.

    And some people do actually use high end processors with IGPs. It's fairly easy to get one from a major OEM. It's stupid but most people don't know any better.
    Reply
  • aahkam - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - link

    Funny comments I saw.

    What's wrong even if the High End CPU that comes with IGP?

    Is High End CPU = Gaming Machine CPU? If that is your logic, you're a rich but shallow boy!

    I do lots of Video Editing and Transcoding, I need High End CPU but None of the High End GPU beats Quick Sync in Transcoding in terms of Quality and Speed.
    Reply
  • dqniel - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    "and if they aren't gaming, then what good is that high-end GPU?"

    I feel like you missed that part. He's not saying that only gamers use high-end CPUs. He's saying that gamers using a high-end CPU won't care about the high-end iGPU because they won't use it. Also, non-gamers who need a high-end CPU generally won't see the benefits of the included high-end iGPU. So, he proposes that the better niche for the high-end iGPU would be on the more affordable CPUs, because then budget-minded gamers could buy an affordable CPU that has a relatively powerful iGPU integrated into it.
    Reply
  • defter - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    This is a mid-range CPU, not high-end one.

    High desktop CPUs (i7 3800-3900) don't have IGP.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    It is because laptops continue to get slimmer and slimmer. Getting good GPU performance without the compromises on the chassis that a dedicated GPU would force is the point. Reply
  • Tormeh - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    This.

    My next laptop will have processor graphics for the sake of battery life and size, and whoever has the best graphics gets my money.
    Reply
  • bznotins - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    Seconded. Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    If the 4000HD is on the level of lets say a 560m I would not hesitate to get a laptop with no dedicated graphics but if it isn't I'm still going to go for the dedicated. Reply

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