Final Words

Based on these early numbers, Ivy Bridge is pretty much right where we expected it on the CPU side. You're looking at a 5 - 15% increase in CPU performance over Sandy Bridge at a similar price point. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed by the gains we've seen here today. It's quite difficult to get tangible IPC improvements from a modern architecture these days, particularly on such a strict nearly-annual basis. For a tick in Intel's cadence, Ivy Bridge is quite good. It feels a lot like Penryn did after Conroe, but better.

The improvement on the GPU side is significant. Although not nearly the jump we saw going to Sandy Bridge last year. Ivy's GPU finally puts Intel's processor graphics into the realm of reasonable for a system with low end GPU needs. Based on what we've seen, discrete GPUs below the $50 - $60 mark don't make sense if you've got Intel's HD 4000 inside your system. The discrete market above $100 remains fairly safe however.

With Ivy Bridge you aren't limited to playing older titles, although you are still limited to relatively low quality settings on newer games. If you're willing to trade off display resolution you can reach a much better balance. We are finally able to deliver acceptable performance at or above 1366 x 768. With the exception of Metro 2033, the games we tested even showed greater than 30 fps at 1680 x 1050. The fact that we were able to run Crysis: Warhead at 1680 x 1050 at over 50 fps on free graphics from Intel is sort of insane when you think about where Intel was just a few years ago.

Whether or not this is enough for mainstream gaming really depends on your definition of that segment of the market. Being able to play brand new titles at reasonable frame rates as realistic resolutions is a bar that Intel has safely met. I hate to sound like a broken record but Ivy Bridge continues Intel's march in the right direction when it comes to GPU performance. Personally, I want more and I suspect that Haswell will deliver much of that. It is worth pointing out that Intel is progressing at a faster rate than the discrete GPU industry at this point. Admittedly the gap is downright huge, but from what I've heard even the significant gains we're seeing here with Ivy will pale in comparison to what Haswell provides.

What Ivy Bridge does not appear to do is catch up to AMD's A8-series Llano APU. It narrows the gap, but for systems whose primary purpose is gaming AMD will still likely hold a significant advantage with Trinity. The fact that Ivy Bridge hasn't progressed enough to challenge AMD on the GPU side is good news. The last thing we need is for a single company to dominate on both fronts. At least today we still have some degree of competition in the market. To Intel's credit however, it's just as unlikely that AMD will surpass Intel in CPU performance this next round with Trinity. Both sides are getting more competitive, but it still boils down to what matters more to you: GPU or CPU performance. Similarly, there's also the question of which one (CPU or GPU) approaches "good enough" first. I suspect the answer to this is going to continue to vary wildly depending on the end user.

The power savings from 22nm are pretty good on the desktop. Under heavy CPU load we measured a ~30W decrease in total system power consumption compared to a similar Sandy Bridge part. If this is an indication of what we can expect from notebooks based on Ivy Bridge I'd say you shouldn't expect significant gains in battery life under light workloads, but you may see improvement in worst case scenario battery life. For example, in our Mac battery life suite we pegged the Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro at around 2.5 hours of battery life in our heavy multitasking scenario. That's the number I'd expect to see improve with Ivy Bridge. We only had a short amount of time with the system and couldn't validate Intel's claims of significant gains in GPU power efficiency but we'll hopefully be able to do that closer to launch.

There's still more to learn about Ivy Bridge, including how it performs as a notebook chip. If the results today are any indication, it should be a good showing all around. Lower power consumption and better performance at the same price as last year's parts - it's the Moore's Law way. There's not enough of an improvement to make existing SNB owners want to upgrade, but if you're still clinging to an old Core 2 (or earlier) system, Ivy will be a great step forward.

QuickSync Performance
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  • taltamir - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    Rarson is correct.
    He isn't suggesting no IGP at all. He is saying put a good IGP on the lower end.

    While there ARE people who need a powerful CPU and will not get a video card because they don't play games, those people do not in any way benefit from having a higher end IGP.

    High end gamers = discreete GPU + Powerful CPU
    Budget gamers = IGP + mid-low range CPU
    Non gamers with money = High end CPU + IGP (underused)
    Non gamers on a budget = Mid-low range CPU + IGP (underused)

    The only people who need a more powerful GPU are the budget gamers and thus it makes sense on the lower end CPUs to have a more powerful IGP.
    Reply
  • Urillusion17 - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    Great article but.... where are the temps??? The few benches I have seen don't mention overclocking, and if they do, they do not mention temps. I am hearing this chip can boil water! I would think that would be as important as anything else... Reply
  • DrWattsOn - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    +1 (very much in agreement) Reply
  • boogerlad - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    is it possible to fully load the igp with an opencl application, and not affect the cpu performance at all? From what I've read, it appears the igp shares the cache with the cpu, so will that affect performance? Reply
  • rocker123 - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Generational performance improvements on the CPU side generally fall in the 20 - 40% range. As you've just seen, Ivy Bridge offers a 7 - 15% increase in CPU performance over Sandy Bridge - making it a bonafide tick from a CPU perspective

    Should be :Generational performance improvements on the GPU side generally fall in the 20 - 40% range
    Reply
  • rocker123 - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Generational performance improvements on the CPU side generally fall in the 20 - 40% range. As you've just seen, Ivy Bridge offers a 7 - 15% increase in CPU performance over Sandy Bridge - making it a bonafide tick from a CPU perspective

    Should be :Generational performance improvements on the GPU side generally fall in the 20 - 40% range
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    They give the drivers their own tweaks and bug fixes, but I doubt they could do something like add T&L without the manufacturers support. In fact, they didn't, unless they have bigger driver teams now. Reply
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    "Personally, I want more and I suspect that Haswell will deliver much of that. It is worth pointing out that Intel is progressing at a faster rate than the discrete GPU industry at this point. Admittedly the gap is downright huge, but from what I've heard even the significant gains we're seeing here with Ivy will pale in comparison to what Haswell provides."

    Personally, I believe on-board graphics will never be on par with a dedicated graphics part. And it is obcessive-compulsive ridiculous to compare the performance of the HD4000 with discrete graphics and complain its not as good.

    The HD4000 is meant for providing graphics for business and multi-media computers. And for that purpose it is outstanding.

    If you want gaming or engineering workstation performance, get a discrete graphics card. And stop angsting about how bad onboard graphics is to discrete graphics.
    Reply
  • pottermd - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Today's desktop processors are more than fast enough to do professional level 3D rendering at home.

    The article contained this statement. It's not really true. I've had a long nap and the render I'm doing is still running. :)
    Reply
  • Dracusis - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    "The people who need integrated graphics"

    No one *needs* integrated graphics. But not everyone needs discrete graphics. The higher performance an IGP has, the less people overall will *need* DGPs.

    Not all games need dedicated graphics cards, just the multi million dollar re-hashed COD's that choke retail stores. There are literally thousands of other games around that only require a small amount of graphics processing power. Flash now has 3D accelerated content and almost every developer using it will target IGP performance levels. Almost all casual game developers target IGPs as well, they're not selling to COD players. Sure, most of those games won't need a hight end CPU as well, but people don't buy computers to play casual games, they buy them for a massive range of tasks, the vast majority of which will be CPU bound so faster would be better.

    Also, as an indie game developer I hit performance walls with CPUs more often than I do with GPUs. You can always scale back geometry/triangle counts, trim or cut certain visual effects but cutting back on CPU related overheads generally means you're cutting out gameplay.
    Reply

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