Sandy Bridge Integrated Graphics Performance

With Clarkdale/Arrandale, Intel improved integrated graphics by a large enough margin that I can honestly say we were impressed with what Intel had done. That being said, the performance of Intel's HD Graphics was honestly not enough. For years integrated graphics have been fast enough to run games like the Sims but not quick enough to play anything more taxing, at least not at reasonable quality settings. The 'dales made Intel competitive in the integrated graphics market, but they didn't change what we thought of integrated graphics.

Sandy Bridge could be different.

Architecturally, Sandy Bridge is a significant revision from what's internally referred to as Intel Gen graphics. While the past two generations of Intel integrated graphics have been a part of the Gen 5 series, Sandy brings the first Gen 6 graphics die to market. With a tremendous increase in IPC and a large L3 cache to partake in, Sandy Bridge's graphics is another significant move forward.

Is it enough to kill all discrete graphics? No. But it's good enough to really threaten the entry level discrete market. Take a look:

Batman: Arkham Asylum

It's unclear whether or not graphics turbo was working on the part I was testing. If it was, this is the best it'll be for the 6 EU parts. If it wasn't, things will be even faster. Comparisons to current integrated graphics solutions are almost worthless. Sandy Bridge's graphics perform like a low end discrete part, not an integrated GPU. In this case, we're about 10% faster than a Radeon HD 5450.

Assuming Sandy Bridge retains the same HTPC features that Clarkdale has, I'm not sure there's a reason for these low end discrete GPUs anymore. At least not unless they get significantly faster.

Note that despite the early nature of the drivers, I didn't notice any rendering artifacts or image quality issues while testing Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics.

Dragon Age Origins

The Sandy Bridge advantage actually grows under Dragon Age. At these frame rates you can either enjoy smoother gameplay or actually up the resolution/quality settings to bring it back down to ~30 fps.

Dawn of War II

It's not always a clear victory for Sandy Bridge. In our Dawn of War II test the 5450 pulls ahead, although by only a small margin.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Sandy is one again on top of the 5450 in Modern Warfare 2. Although I'm not sure these frame rates are high enough to really up quality settings any more, they are at least smooth - which is more than I can say for the first gen HD Graphics.

BioShock 2

Intel promised to deliver a 2x improvement in integrated graphics performance with Sandy Bridge. We're getting a bit more than that here in BioShock 2.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is finally playable with Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics. The Radeon HD 5450 is 10% faster here.

HAWX

Sandy Bridge Graphics Performance Summary

This is still a very early look. Drivers and hardware both aren't final, but the initial results are very promising. Sandy Bridge puts all current integrated graphics solutions to shame, and even looks to nip at the heels of low end discrete GPUs. For HTPC users, Clarkdale did a good enough job - but for light gaming there wasn't enough horsepower under the hood. With Sandy Bridge you can actually play modern titles, albeit at low quality settings.

If this is the low end of what to expect, I'm not sure we'll need more than integrated graphics for non-gaming specific notebooks. Update: It looks like all notebook Sandy Bridge parts, at least initially, will use the 12 EU IGPs. Our SB sample may also have been a 12 EU part, we're still awaiting confirmation.

The Test Photoshop & Video Encoding Performance
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  • foundchild1 - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    "For example, today the fastest LGA-1156 processor is the Core i7 880. When Sandy Bridge launches early next year, the fastest LGA-1155 processor will be the Core i7 2600."

    Shouldn't the second one also read LGA-1156? Are they changing the pin count/socket for this 'tock'?
    Reply
  • foundchild1 - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Well, that's me being an idiot and not reading the whole article first... New socket indeed. Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    So intel has locked multtipliers because of some other evil companies, eh? To protect the consumers, right?

    What a shame... :(
    Reply
  • jfelano - Sunday, August 29, 2010 - link

    Did you even read the article???? Yes its s1155. Reply
  • wazzap123 - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    The story of how caches are going to work in the 8+ core world is getting exciting. I like the overview at the daily circuit that summarizes how Niagara 3, Tilera Gx-100, and BlueGene/P processors weigh in on the issue too
    http://www.dailycircuitry.com/2010/11/progress-in-...
    Reply
  • dendysutrisna - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The Apple iMac 21.5inch is a computer machine which uses the power of Intel Core i5-2400. Look at these page: http://www.bestdealscomputers.net/desktops/new-app... Processors like that, thanks to its strength, could draw the attention of everyone, even computer vendors at the level Apple also has without a doubt to hook them. Reply
  • Grooveriding - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    It's hard to wade through all this data so quickly. That said, as far as overclocking, the new 2011 socket will be the successor to 1366 ?

    I hope with all these new overclocking controls there will still be that mainstay $300 CPU that can overclock to some extreme performance. Meaning a successor to the i7 920/930 that can deliver the amazing performance those can overclocked.

    I hope this is not the death knell for such a CPU and Intel is expecting us to fork over $1000 for that performance level.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Good question, but judging by the road map, the Extreme and Performance segments are still Gulftown Processors. I think the 1366 stays for Gulftown. Reply
  • Casper42 - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    On the 2P Server side of things, I have been told there will be a Westmere v2 coming in January 2011.
    This is probably the same family that will produce the i7 990 and the other 1366 chips on the chart that don't exist yet. The Xeon 5600 and 970/980 are damn near identical aside from QPI Links.

    Being those are being released in Jan, I wouldn't expect to see a socket 2011 desktop part until basically a year from now.

    They will once again be a close relative to the 2P Server family. The socket for the 2P Servers will be Socket R and will be Quad Channel memory as well as supposedly having PCIe 3.0.
    Reply
  • bitzao - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Yeah but.... will it run Starcraft II ? (on medium) Reply

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