The times, they are changing. In fact, the times have already changed, we're just waiting for the results. I remember the first time Intel brought me into a hotel room to show me their answer to AMD's Athlon 64 FX—the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Back then the desktop race was hotly contested. Pushing the absolute limits of what could be done without a concern for power consumption was the name of the game. In the mid-2000s, the notebook started to take over. Just like the famous day when Apple announced that it was no longer a manufacturer of personal computers but a manufacturer of mobile devices, Intel came to a similar realization years prior when these slides were first shown at an IDF in 2005:

IDF 2005

IDF 2005

Intel is preparing for another major transition, similar to the one it brought to light seven years ago. The move will once again be motivated by mobility, and the transition will be away from the giant CPUs that currently power high-end desktops and notebooks to lower power, more integrated SoCs that find their way into tablets and smartphones. Intel won't leave the high-end market behind, but the trend towards mobility didn't stop with notebooks.

The fact of the matter is that everything Charlie has said on the big H is correct. Haswell will be a significant step forward in graphics performance over Ivy Bridge, and will likely mark Intel's biggest generational leap in GPU technology of all time. Internally Haswell is viewed as the solution to the ARM problem. Build a chip that can deliver extremely low idle power, to the point where you can't tell the difference between an ARM tablet running in standby and one with a Haswell inside. At the same time, give it the performance we've come to expect from Intel. Haswell is the future, and this is the bridge to take us there.

In our Ivy Bridge preview I applauded Intel for executing so well over the past few years. By limiting major architectural shifts to known process technologies, and keeping design simple when transitioning to a new manufacturing process, Intel took what once was a five year design cycle for microprocessor architectures and condensed it into two. Sure the nature of the changes every 2 years was simpler than what we used to see every 5, but like most things in life—smaller but frequent progress often works better than putting big changes off for a long time.

It's Intel's tick-tock philosophy that kept it from having a Bulldozer, and the lack of such structure that left AMD in the situation it is today (on the CPU side at least). Ironically what we saw happen between AMD and Intel over the past ten years is really just a matter of the same mistake being made by both companies, just at different times. Intel's complacency and lack of an aggressive execution model led to AMD's ability to outshine it in the late K7/K8 days. AMD's similar lack of an execution model and executive complacency allowed the tides to turn once more.

Ivy Bridge is a tick+, as we've already established. Intel took a design risk and went for greater performance all while transitioning to the most significant process technology it has ever seen. The end result is a reasonable increase in CPU performance (for a tick), a big step in GPU performance, and a decrease in power consumption.

Today is the day that Ivy Bridge gets official. Its name truly embodies its purpose. While Sandy Bridge was a bridge to a new architecture, Ivy connects a different set of things. It's a bridge to 22nm, warming the seat before Haswell arrives. It's a bridge to a new world of notebooks that are significantly thinner and more power efficient than what we have today. It's a means to the next chapter in the evolution of the PC.

Let's get to it.

Additional Reading

Intel's Ivy Bridge Architecture Exposed
Mobile Ivy Bridge Review
Undervolting & Overclocking on Ivy Bridge

Intel's Ivy Bridge: An HTPC Perspective

The Lineup: Quad-Core Only for Now


View All Comments

  • frozentundra123456 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    According to the Asus review just out by Anand, the Intel HD4000 and AMD HD6620 are essentially even in the mobile space, where it really matters. I dont know where you are getting the "soundly trounces" description, unless you are talking about the desktop. I dont really care about integrated graphics on the desktop, it is just too easy to add a discrete card that soundly trounces either Intel or AMD integrated. I have no doubt that AMD will regain the lead in the mobile space when Trinity comes out. I just question that they will make the kind of improvements that are being speculated about.

    I also find it ironic that so many people are criticizing IVB for lack of cpu improvement while in the same breath saying bulldozer is OK because it is "good enough" already.
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Primarily Einstein@Home. Reply
  • fastman696 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review, but this is new Tech, why use old Tech chipset? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    You're being deliberately obtuse in order to set up a straw man.

    Me: "As I note in the mobile IVB article, mobile Llano GPU performance isn't nearly as impressive relative to IVB as on the desktop."

    You: "The mobile variant of the part that launched last year isn't as dominant over the part that just launched today as the desktop variant is?"

    In other words, you want us to compare to a product that's not out because the current product doesn't look good. I mention Trinity already, but you act as though I miss it. Then you throw out stuff like, "Thanks for resorting to namecalling" when you've already been insulting with your comments since the get go. "Sad to see this kind of crap coming from Anandtech." "I guess Anandtech's standards have drastically lowered." Put another way, you're already calling me an idiot but doing it indirectly. But let's continue....

    How much faster can you do Flash video when it's already accelerated and working properly in Sandy Bridge? Web browsers are basically in the same boat, unless you can name major web sites that a lot of users visit where HD 3000/4000 is significantly worse than the competition.

    Does Photoshop benefit from GPUs? Sure, and lots of people use that, including me, but the same people that use Photoshop are also the people who need more than Llano CPU performance, and more than HD 4000 or Llano or Trinity GPU performance. I'm running Bloomfield with a GTX 580, which is more than 95% of users out there. Most serious Photoshop users that I know use quad-core Intel with some form of NVIDIA graphics for a reason. But even running on straight Sandy Bridge with HD 3000, Photoshop runs faster than on Llano with HD 6620G.

    Vegas, naturally, is in the same category as video transcoding. I suppose I could have said "video editing/transcoding" just to be broader. There are tons of people that don't do video editing/transcoding. Even for those that do, NVIDIA GPUs are doing far better than AMD GPUs, and NVIDIA + Intel CPU is still the platform to beat. If you want quality, though, encoding is still done in software running on the CPU; Premiere for instance really just leverages the GPU to help with the "quick preview" videos, not for final rendering (unless something has changed since the last time I played with it).

    So let's try again: what exactly are the areas where Intel's Ivy Bridge and HD 4000 fall short, where AMD's Llano (or the upcoming Trinity) are going to be substantially better? All without adding a discrete GPU. Llano is equal to HD 4000 for gaming, and seriously behind on the CPU department. There are still areas where AMD's drivers are much better than Intel's drivers, and there are certain tasks (shader and geometry) where AMD is better. Really, though, the only area where Intel doesn't compete is in strictly budget laptops.
  • chizow - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Yes I have heard of a "tick", and IVB has manifested itself as a tick+ as indicated in the article which means we are basically on the 3rd generation of the same architecture introduced with Nehalem in late 2008 with some minor bumps in clockspeed/Turbo modes and overclocking headroom.

    Both Conroe and Nehalem were pretty huge jumps in performance only 2.5 years apart on one of Intel's Tick Tock cadence cycles and since then, nothing remotely as interesting.

    Maybe you should be asking yourself why you aren't expecting bigger performance gains? Or maybe you're still reveling and ogling over Tahiti's terrible price:performance gains in the GPU space? :D
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, because that extra 10W TDP makes all the difference, doesn't it? 45W Llano parts aren't shipped in very many laptops because the OEMs aren't interested. Just look at Newegg as an example:

    There is one current A8 APU faster than the A8-3520M for sale at Newegg, and it has an A8-3510MX. AMD's own list isn't much better ( there's one more notebook there with an A8-3530MX. So that's why we looked at A8-3520M, but if I had an MX chip I would certainly run the same tests -- no one has been willing to send us such a laptop, unfortunately.

    But even if we got an MX chip, their GPUs are still clocked the same as the A8-3500M/A8-3520M. We might be CPU limited in a couple games, but while there are Llano parts with 20% higher CPU clocks, that just means Intel is "only" ahead by 60-70% instead of 100% faster on CPU performance.
  • Joepublic2 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Because stock temperatures are irrelevant (much like your posting) to the end user as long as the chip isn't throttling. Reply
  • samal90 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    you people over-analyzed my comment. All I wanted to say is that they are bragging about HD 4000 when it doesn't come close to the current competition.
    Couple of years down the road, people won't want dedicated graphics cards in their laptops anymore..its too bulky and consumes too much power. We will all have integrated GPUs. the AMD APU is the way to go. To be honest, CPU power is already way more than enough for a lot of things most people use their laptops for (browsing the web, writing documents, play web-based games a.k.a. angry birds on chrome). The extra GPU is for people that either want to do some graphics processing or play some more graphics intensive games. So yes, it is important for the future to have a good and strong integrated GPU and a good CPU. Therefore, I think AMD will win this round. I hope they continue to compete at each other's throats so we see better and cheaper products from both sides.
    So as I understand it right now: Go for AMD if you want better GPU, go for Intel if CPU is more important for you. Trinity might narrow the CPU gap however and greatly increase the GPU one. Only time will tell.
  • chaos215bar2 - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    "Ivy Bridge is hotter, so if you're paying for the AC, it should be a negative impact."

    Where do you think the dissipated power is going? TDP and overall thermal output are roughly equivalent.

    IVB may get hotter, but without measuring TDP overclocked and under load, that could easily be because the die is smaller and doesn't dissipate heat quite as well.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    "I don't understand this. We're talking about power consumption, not TDP. Heat-wise, Ivy Bridge is hotter, so if you're paying for the AC, it should be a negative impact."

    Power consumption is TDP. 100W of power is 100joules/second of heat to be disipated; it doesn't matter if the heat's coming off a large warm die, or a small hot one. 100W is 100W.

    My current i7-9xx boxes are 130W chips; so just looking at TDP somewhere between 60 and 90W less power at stock (~50 just from the CPU TDP, the higher number the chipset's a theoretical 18 more, probably a lot less in practice, and then whatever cut of the IB's TDP is for the GPU). Probably a wider gap when OCed, but I don't have any stock vs OC power numbers to look at. With AC costs added, cost savings would probably be between $100 and $200/year per box.

    Up front costs would be ~$400-550 for CPU + mobo pairs depending on how high up the feature chain I went; probably fairly high for my main box and more bang for the buck on the 2nd.

    Looking on ebay for successful auctions it looks like I could get ~$250 for my existing cpu/mobo pairs less whatever ebay's fee is. The very rough guess would be a 2 yearish payback time which is somewhat better that I thought (closer to 3 years).

    Not sure I'll do it since I have a few other PC related purchases on the wishlist too: replacing my creaky Core One Duo laptop with a light/medium gaming model or swapping out my netbook for a new ultra portable after Win8 launches might give better returns for my dollar. The latter's battery isn't really lasting as long as I'd like any more. Also, my WHSv1 box is scheduled for retirement this winter.

    I am going to have to give it some serious thought though. Part of me still wants to wait for Haswell even though preliminary indications are that it won't be a huge step up; the much bigger GPU and remaining at dual channel memory makes a mainstream hex core part unlikely.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now