Intel's Core 2011 Mobile Roadmap Revealed: Sandy Bridge Part IIby Anand Lal Shimpi on August 30, 2010 8:01 AM EST
Late last week we pulled back the covers on Intel's next-generation Core architecture update: Sandy Bridge. Due out in Q1 2011, we learned a lot about Sandy Bridge's performance in our preview. Sandy Bridge will be the first high performance monolithic CPU/GPU from Intel. Its performance was generally noticeably better than the present generation of processors, both on the CPU and GPU side. If you haven't read the preview by now, I'd encourage you to do so.
One of the questions we got in response to the article was: what about Sandy Bridge for notebooks? While Sandy Bridge is pretty significant for mainstream quad-core desktops, it's even more tailored to the notebook space. I've put together some spec and roadmap information for those of you who might be looking for a new notebook early next year.
Mobile Sandy Bridge
Like the desktop offering, mobile Sandy Bridge will arrive sometime in Q1 of next year. If 2010 was any indication of what's to come, we'll see both mobile and desktop parts launch at the same time around CES.
The mobile Sandy Bridge parts are a little more straightforward in some areas but more confusing in others. The biggest problem is that both dual and quad-core parts share the same brand; in fact, the letter Q is the only indication that the Core i7 2720QM is a quad-core and the Core i7 2620M isn't. Given AMD's Bulldozer strategy, I'm sure Intel doesn't want folks worrying about how many cores they have - just that higher numbers mean better things.
|Mobile Sandy Bridge CPU Comparison|
|Base Frequency||L3 Cache||Cores / Threads||Max Single Core Turbo||Memory Support||Intel Graphics EUs||Intel HD Graphics Frequency / Max Turbo||TDP|
|Core i7 2920XM||2.5GHz||8MB||4 / 8||3.5GHz||DDR3-1600||12||650 / 1300MHz||55W|
|Core i7 2820QM||2.3GHz||8MB||4 / 8||3.4GHz||DDR3-1600||12||650 / 1300MHz||45W|
|Core i7 2720QM||2.2GHz||6MB||4 / 8||3.3GHz||DDR3-1600||12||650 / 1300MHz||45W|
|Core i7 2620M||2.7GHz||4MB||2 / 4||3.4GHz||DDR3-1600||12||650 / 1300MHz||35W|
|Core i5 2540M||2.6GHz||3MB||2 / 4||3.3GHz||DDR3-1333||12||650 / 1150MHz||35W|
|Core i5 2520M||2.5GHz||3MB||2 / 4||3.2GHz||DDR3-1333||12||650 / 1150MHz||35W|
You'll notice a few changes compared to the desktop lineup. Clock speeds are understandably lower, and all launch parts have Hyper Threading enabled. Mobile Sandy Bridge also officially supports up to DDR3-1600 while the desktop CPUs top out at DDR3-1333 (though running them at 1600 shouldn't be a problem assuming you have a P67 board).
The major difference between mobile Sandy Bridge and its desktop countpart is all mobile SB launch SKUs have two graphics cores (12 EUs), while only some desktop parts have 12 EUs (it looks like the high-end K SKUs will have it). The base GPU clock is lower but it can turbo up to 1.3GHz, higher than most desktop Sandy Bridge CPUs. Note that the GPU we tested in Friday's preview had 6 EUs, so mobile Sandy Bridge should be noticeably quicker as long as we don't run into memory bandwidth issues. Update: Our preview article may have actually used a 12 EU part, we're still trying to confirm!
Even if we only get 50% more performance out of the 12 EU GPU, that'd be enough for me to say that there's no need for discrete graphics in a notebook - as long as you don't use it for high-end gaming.
While Arrandale boosted multithreaded performance significantly, Sandy Bridge is going to offer an across the board increase in CPU performance and a dramatic increase in GPU performance. And from what I've heard, NVIDIA's Optimus technology will work with the platform in case you want to do some serious gaming on your notebook.