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
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  • Tujan - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    cause how I see it :
    " If you're constantly transcoding movies to get them onto your smartphone or tablet, you need Ivy Bridge. In less than 7 minutes, and with no impact to CPU usage, I was able to transcode a complete 130 minute 1080p video to an iPad friendly format—that's over 15x real time."

    The majority of trancoding is going the other way- from an ipad friendly format to another friendly type format (device or not). Cell phone to pc,ipad to youtube etc.
    I like the concept of the transcode,encode,but as much as with the bandwidth necesary to utilize them they are as they are 'bandwidth hungry'. And here is the first I have noticed that of telling there is hardware to facilitate the h.264 type encoding. "Hardware" to do this.
    The screens from all of those cell phones in high resolution 'still'require bandwidth to utilize them. .. and so on.

    I dont understand it completely but I'll attempt to stay tuned.
    Reply
  • androticus - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I find this review enormously confusing. You mix IB and SB parts/sku's throughout, without clearly highlighting which is which. On page 2, at first I thought the chart was of IB CPUs, but then realized it was a mishmash of both. Likewise on all the benchmark charts, and I couldn't even distinguish various SB/IB/core counts apart.

    Was this article written solely for people who have a PhD in Intel sku's ???
    Reply
  • Dudenell - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Could we actually see comparison with the i7-920 or i7-950 in there? Reply
  • Pjotr - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the Compile test, this is all I look at to decide purchases at work. Reply
  • sld - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    The A8 is conspicuously missing from the 2 charts showing idle and load system consumption. Why is this so? Reply
  • greggm2000 - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Anand/Ryan,

    According to the article linked below from today, it seems that Intel may be using TIM paste instead of fluxless solder in the IB chips, and if so, does this seem like a reasonable explanation for the high temperatures that people are seeing?

    I'm interested in your thoughts on this... and if it's true, and if the article is correct, then Intel deliberately handicapping their chips (to possibly preserve SB-E sales?) is quite troubling to me.

    http://www.overclockers.com/ivy-bridge-temperature...
    Reply
  • slickr - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Hi, is this good enough of an upgrade over a Pentium 4 for office, internet and movies?

    And will the HD4000 beat a ATI x1650XT?
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Hey guys!
    Good review overall, thanks for that!
    But the Quicksync section was kinda strange. No way that an x86 software solution generates worse IQ than any accelerated stuff. Unless you were comparing IQ with settings that have the x86 do recode the file in the same time it takes the other solutions. Anyway, I don't understand what you did in that section. :-)
    Reply
  • kevith - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Great review.

    Would it be interesting to see how it fared in a series 6 motherboard, now that it actually is backwards compatible?
    Reply
  • pwnsweet - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    The only thing I care about is how much faster this new slab of silicon will power though my x264 encoding and that's the one part of the review that was left out!

    Why anand, why!?
    Reply

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