Final Words

Ivy Bridge will bring about higher clock speeds thanks to its 22nm process, however the gains will likely be minimal at best. Intel hasn't been too keen on pursuing clock speed for quite some time now. Clock for clock performance will go up by a small amount over Sandy Bridge (4 - 6%), combine that with slightly higher clock speeds and we may see CPU performance gains of around 10% at the same price point with Ivy Bridge. The bigger news will be around power consumption and graphics performance.

Ivy Bridge will be Intel's flagship 22nm CPU for some time. The chip was originally due out at the end of this year but was likely subject to delays due to issues with the fab process and the chip itself. The move to 22nm is significant leap. Not only are these new transistors aggressively small but the introduction of Intel's tri-gate technology is a major departure from previous designs. Should the fab engineers at Intel do their job well, Ivy Bridge could deliver much better power characteristics than Sandy Bridge. As we've already seen, introducing a 35W quad-core part could enable Apple (and other OEMs) to ship a quad-core IVB in a 13-inch system.

Ivy Bridge's GPU performance is particularly intriguing. With a 33% increase in execution hardware and a near doubling of performance per EU, it's clear that Intel is finally taking GPU performance seriously. If Intel can hit its clock and performance targets, Ivy Bridge could deliver GPU performance on-par with AMD's Llano. By the time Ivy Bridge arrives however, AMD will have already taken another step forward with Trinity. The question is who will address their performance issues quicker? Will AMD improve x86 performance faster than Intel can improve GPU performance? Does it even matter if both companies end up at the same point down the road? Short of 3D gaming workloads, I believe that x86 CPU performance is what sells CPUs today. Intel's embracing of OpenCL however and AMD's efforts in that space imply things are finally changing in that regard.

Sandy Bridge brought about a significant increase in CPU performance, but Ivy seems almost entirely dedicated to addressing Intel's aspirations in graphics. With two architectures in a row focused on improving GPU performance, I do wonder if we might see this trend continue with Haswell. Intel implied that upward scalability was a key goal of the Ivy Bridge GPU design, perhaps we will see that happen in 2013.

Ivy Bridge can do very well in notebooks. A more efficient chip built using lower power transistors should positively impact battery life and thermal output. Desktop users who already upgraded to Sandy Bridge may not feel the pressure to upgrade, but having better graphics shipping on all new systems can only be good for the industry.

The New GPU
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  • driscoll42 - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    On the last page there's "Should the fab engineers at Intel do their job well, Ivy Bridge could deliver much better power characteristics than Ivy." in the second paragraph, should that be Sandy on the end? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    Thank you! Fixed :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    It's good that Intel has decided that their GPU sucks and that to be competitive they need to catch up to AMD. This will take some time as AMD has a two year head start on APUs but it's all good for consumers.

    In spite of the marketing hype from Intel it looks like they've conceded that AMD has the better system approach with APUs for mainstream consumers and laptops. CPU performance alone is no longer a valid yardstick for PC performance thanks to AMD's advance thinking and Llano.
    Reply
  • TypeS - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I realize Intel is behind (has been for since anyone can remember) in the graphics arena compared to AMD/ATI and NVIDIA, but is AMD "two years ahead" in terms of an APU? While Clarkdale can't really be considered a true all in one package (hey remember when Kentsfield wasn't considered a true quad core?), it was still an all in one package, and with Sandy Bridge, Intel brought it all together onto one die. Intel isn't calling it an APU but if you compare SNB and Llano/Bulldozer, they share some similarities.

    AMD's edge is on graphics, and Intel is closing the gap.

    I might be missing something though in why you say they are ahead in terms of an "APU", but from my knowledge, Intel as first to release a retail/commercial APU.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Intel might be catching up in terms of physical performance, but Intel's drivers still, quite frankly, suck. It's the one thing really holding the platform back, in terms of both compatibility and performance. Even simple things like flash acceleration can sometimes be wonky with Intel's drivers.

    Furthermore, developers like Carmack have been pestering Intel to give them lower-level access to the hardware, with potentially enormous performance benefits; they'd like to treat PCs more like a console, and stripping away much of the driver/graphics overhead (particularly in terms of memory management) could see some pretty big performance gains. There's a reason why modern integrated GPUs like in Ivy Bridge have theoretical performance on-par with a 360 or PS3, but in practice, are nowhere near as performant.

    Of course, the same is true for AMD and nVidia; high-end developers like Carmack and Sweeney seem to want lower-level access to hardware. From Carmack's latest QuakeCon keynote, it does seem like the hardware manufacturers are listening.
    Reply
  • fic2 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Yeah, Intel seems to want to catch up and made a pretty decent effort of no sucking with the HD3000. BUT then they go and do a dumb@ss thing like put the crappy HD2000 on 90% of the Sandies they sell. I think if marketing would get the he11 out of the way they wouldn't be too sucky.

    Oh, yeah, except the drivers.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I love AMD as much as the next guy (have three running AMD boxes), but are you going to continue to be "that guy" that posts this nonsense in every Intel/AMD thread? We get it. You love AMD and want to help them win the CPU wars. Yay for fanbois everywhere! Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    Intel hasn't released an APU. They have released a CPU and GPU on the same slab of silicon. That's not an integrated APU.

    No nonsense, just facts. I like facts. Some folks can't handle facts but that's life. I like choice and scrupulous businesses. That's what AMD is unlike Intel.
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    For someone arguing against marketing hype and looking for facts you seem overly preoccupied by AMD's APU term. If you are looking for which product currently on the market has tighter CPU/IGP integration then that produce is Sandy Bridge not Llano. For instance Sandy Bridge allows bidirectional communication/sharing of instructions and data between the CPUs and IGP via a shared on die L3 cache instead of through a crossbar and off die system memory as in Llano. Sandy Bridge also has more advanced power and thermal monitoring allowing efficient sharing of TDP room between the CPU and IGP, allowing each to be overclocked as needed, something Llano doesn't do.

    Yes, Llano has the faster GPU, but that's not the critical concern if what you are interested in is integration. Intel's CPU and GPU on a slab of silicon was Arrandale. Sandy Bridge has moved well beyond that. Llano's CPU/GPU integration looks to be somewhere in between Arrandale and Sandy Bridge. Seeing Llano is AMD's 1st generation Fusion product along with Brazos that's fine. But just because AMD's calls their product an APU doesn't mean it's the pinnacle of CPU/GPU integration.
    Reply
  • gramboh - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    Boom. Beenthere just got roasted, and of course disappears rather than admitting he was wrong. Reply

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