Mobile Sandy Bridge Application Performance

We’ll start off with a bang and show application performance, along with media encoding performance comparing Intel’s QuickSync technology with CUDA video encoding. We’ve got a variety of laptops and notebooks in our charts for comparison, including dual-core and quad-core AMD (not their fastest mobile chips, unfortunately), plenty of Arrandale options, and a few Clarksfield notebooks as well. And just for good measure, we’ve included results from a desktop Core i7-920 as a point of comparison. Normally that would be raining on Intel’s parade by showing how previous generation desktop hardware is still quite a bit faster; this time, however… well, I’ll let the charts tell the story.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

So, is anyone as impressed as I am? Sure, hex-core Gulftown is still the fastest game in town, and the desktop Sandy Bridge chips are obviously going to beat the mobile chips, but check out the scores relative to the i7-920 in my own “for play” system. (Incidentally, my “for work” system is actually running QX6700 still, and it does even worse! But all I do there is type documents and surf the web.) Let’s talk percentages here just to put it all into perspective.

Since PCMark Vantage and 05 are susceptible to heavy SSD influence, we’ll just skip those scores; suffice it to say that Sandy Bridge is no slouch there. Turn to CPU-intensive benchmarks, however, and we can really see the changes. Starting with single-threaded Cinebench, the new i7-2820QM checks in 35% faster than the outgoing i7-920XM, 32% faster than a desktop i7-920, 43% faster than the i7-740QM, and 19% faster than the previous generation’s fastest dual-core part.

Use applications that are thread-friendly and the gap widens even more. In Cinebench SMP, the closest competitor in our charts is the desktop i7-920, and 2820QM maintains a healthy 23% lead—in fact, looking at our desktop reviews, the stock (but with Turbo) 2820QM is roughly equal to an i7-930 overclocked to 3.5GHz. It also leads the i7-920XM by 84%, and an i7-640M by 104% (!). x264 encoding tells a similar story: the second pass is 9% faster than i7-920 desktop, 65% faster than i7-920XM, and twice as fast as i7-640M—and that’s without using the new QuickSync technology! [Whoa, nice segue Batman!]

Meet the Compal Sandy Bridge Notebook Mobile Sandy Bridge QuickSync and 3DMarks
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  • tipoo - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Sorry if I missed this somewhere in the review, but does the graphics component support OpenCL? Reply
  • RyuDeshi - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    Second to last paragraph on the "Extended compatibility and performance results:"

    "Ultimately, Sandy Bridge’s IGP is far more capable than many would have expected. Sure, it doesn’t even try to support DX11 or OpenCL, but at least for gaming DX11 is typically too much for even midrange GPUs."
    Reply
  • CharonPDX - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    An Intel rep has said that Sandy Bridge will support OpenCL. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20024079-64.html ) The trick is that it may be a combo CPU+GPU to do it. So it may not be what you are thinking by OpenCL being solely GPU, but OpenCL code should be able to run.

    And in the end, what does it matter, really, as long as it runs? As the desktop Sandy Bridge review points out, video encoding is just as fast using solely the x86 codepaths as using nVidia's CUDA or ATI's Stream.
    Reply
  • Voldenuit - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    OpenCL was designed from the outset to run on heterogenous resources, including CPU.

    So intel claiming that they "support" OpenCL is nothing special - they just needed the right drivers/API.

    However, don't expect OpenCL code running solely on the CPU (my guess as to how SB will handle it) to be any faster than the x86 codepath running on the same CPU.

    Checkbox feature.
    Reply
  • jameskatt - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    What Intel wants to do is to have the CPU run OpenCL code.

    This totally defeats the purpose of OpenCL.

    OpenCL is suppose to allow both the GPU and the CPU to run code simultaneously. This is to allow significant acceleration in running OpenCL code compared to using just the CPU.

    Sure. OpenCL code will run. But it will run MORE SLOWLY than with a discrete GPU. And the 16 GPUs in Sandy Bridge will be wasted.

    Intel's Sandy Bridge has non-programmable GPUs. This is a serious limitation and deal killer when it comes to running OpenCL code.

    I expect Apple to continue use nVidia's or AMD's discrete GPUs with the MacBooks and Mac Book Pros.

    This is very disappointing. It shows that Intel still doesn't have the talent to produce decent GPUs.
    Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    And the 16 GPUs in Sandy Bridge will be wasted.


    *cough* I think you mean 12 EU *cough*
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    <i>What Intel wants to do is to have the CPU run OpenCL code.

    This totally defeats the purpose of OpenCL.

    OpenCL is suppose to allow both the GPU and the CPU to run code simultaneously. This is to allow significant acceleration in running OpenCL code compared to using just the CPU.</i>

    No, this is the *primary* purpose of OpenCL. The goal of OpenCL is not to "allow the GPU and CPU to run code simultaneously", but to provide a single unified code path that can be used with any hardware, be it CPU or GPU. There are/were already code paths specific to each vendor/type (CUDA for nVIDIA GPUs, Stream for AMD/ATI GPUs, x86 for Intel/AMD CPUs). The problem is that fully supporting all three platforms requires three separate code paths.

    OpenCL unifies this, and allows a single codepath to be used regardless of the GPU's type or existence. You've completely misunderstood the purpose of OpenCL.
    Reply
  • Wiggy McShades - Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - link

    You need to ask what applications on a desktop actually use OpenCL in a meaningful way? Intel added hardware for media transcoding, which makes transcoding on something besides the cpu useless and that was roughly all openCL can be used for on the desktop, laptop, or cellphone.
    OpenCL is for vector calculations, AVX is for vector calculations. All four cores running AVX instructions would just be a faster choice than OpenCL on a low end gpu. Intel most likely could get sandybridge's gpu running OpenCL, but it would be pointless. OpenCL just is not a desktop feature.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, January 05, 2011 - link

    Given how much money they have, I doubt Intel is lacking the "talent" to do anything they want. OpenCL execution on the GPU portion of the SNB chips was probably just not that big a deal to them, and given the number of other things (such as speed and battery life) SNB brings to the table they probably won't have trouble selling lots of these to the average consumer. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Monday, January 03, 2011 - link

    which mobile cpus on pg1 support TXT or VT-d or AES-NI or VT-x or Quick Sync? Reply

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