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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  • aegisofrime - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    It's interesting to me that this article doesn't include any temperature measurements. I have been hearing that Ivy Bridge has got temperature issues. Could you update the article with those numbers? I'm aware that the article on undervolting and overclocking has some numbers, but none at stock voltage and clocks as far as I know. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I was just going to post the same thing. Where on earth are the temp measurements? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Ian's article thoroughly covers the thermal issues, and did include a stock clock graph with voltage scaling:

    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/5763/Stock%20Spee...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Thanks for responding Anand.

    The issue I see is in the future, people will look for this review, and not know to look in another article for temp readings.

    And I know the other article did have a temp graph, but it did not have the bar graph comparing it to other CPU's like we are used to. I actually have no clue how it compares to a SNB chip after reading this article in terms of temperatures. It would be great to have that information as it aids in building a new system.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • samal90 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Okk...so the A8-3870K beats it in almost every gaming benchmark and they are marketing the HD4000....pretty bad for intel. Trinity will completely destroy Ivy bridge then it seems. Every generation, one company is slacking off behind the other...it's always like that. Next year, intel will take the crown..then the year after it will be AMD...and so on. Reply
  • N4g4rok - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Not so sure about that actually. I think they're going to fork in two different directions, with Intel being your high compute power desktop friendly option, and AMD being the go to for laptop, notebook, and ultrabook-esque form factors. Unless trinity mucks up big time, AMD will have the IGP thing down. for a while. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I think you're wrong on the "AMD being the go to for laptop..." part. AMD will be the go-to option for people that want an inexpensive laptop with better IGP performance. As I note in the mobile IVB article, mobile Llano GPU performance isn't nearly as impressive relative to IVB as on the desktop. Anyway, AMD will continue to lead on IGP performance with Trinity I'm sure, but there are very large numbers of laptop users that don't even play games. Of course, the highest selling laptops are still going to be the least expensive laptops. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    For mainstream laptops the real factor is probably going to be battery life. AMD needs to catch up to Intel with power management to get beyond niche products. Reply
  • seasalt - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Why is it listed as 77W when the ones already being sold are clearly marked 95W on the boxes?

    http://www.nordichardware.com/news/69-cpu-chipset/...
    Reply
  • mechwarrior1989 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    It's in the article...

    "Note that max TDP for Ivy Bridge on the desktop has been reduced from 95W down to 77W thanks to Intel's 22nm process. The power savings do roughly follow that 18W decrease in TDP. Despite the power reduction, you may see 95W labels on boxes and OEMs are still asked to design for 95W as Ivy Bridge platforms can accept both 77W IVB and 95W Sandy Bridge parts."
    Reply

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