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Mobile Ivy Bridge: Paving the Way For Ultrabooks

Core i7-3720QM: Ivy Bridge Makes Its Mark On Mobility
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We already know that Ivy Bridge is a tick in the company's cadence. It represents a shift to 22 nm manufacturing, and incorporates much of what Intel introduced alongside Sandy Bridge. Naturally, it's an evolutionary step forward more than anything.

In the desktop space, Ivy Bridge doesn't have much effect at all on the performance of our tests. Improved IPC throughput shaves off a few seconds here and there from our processor-bound benchmarks. And of course, the graphics engine is significantly faster. But an enthusiast puts very little weight on integrated graphics, and a couple of percentage points certainly aren't enough to compel an upgrade from the previous generation.

Asus's N36Vm, Ivy Bridge Based NotebookAsus's N36Vm, Ivy Bridge Based Notebook

Ivy Bridge's impact on the mobile space is certainly more profound, though. That 22 nm adoption helps bring down power consumption, even as Intel's newest processors maintain similar performance. Moreover, a notebook is far more likely to exploit good-enough built-in graphics. By beefing up its GPU, HD Graphics 4000 proves capable enough to satisfy more of Intel's customers than any past effort. It's even capable of slogging through Battlefield 3 (albeit using low resolutions and modest quality settings).

Lower power, better compute performance, and faster graphics. Those are all massive boons to partners designing small, thin, and light mobile platforms based on Ivy Bridge. 

Where does the competition land? Well, none of AMD's Llano-based parts come equipped with fixed-function logic able to match Quick Sync. We know that upcoming Trinity-based APUs will include the company's VCE capability, but because that feature isn't even enabled on the Radeon HD 7000-series add-in cards, we don't know how it'll match up.

AMD does have a great graphics solution. Unfortunately, throttling down from the 100 W TDP of its desktop Llano-based parts down to 35 W affects 3D performance in a big way. The A8-3520M boasts 400 shader cores, but they have to operate at much lower clock rates. The result is generally good enough to match Intel's HD Graphics 3000 implementation, but the new Ivy Bridge design simply pulls away effortlessly.

In the days to come, we'll be seeing AMD's answer to Ivy Bridge in its Trinity design. Armed with Piledriver-based processor cores and a more efficient graphics architecture, the company probably won't try to compete against Intel's highest-end mobile models. We do expect a big value push, though, and an almost-certain counter to Intel's Ultrabook initiative.

Until then, Intel's most recent step forward looks like it'll be a major enabler for a number of the company's partners. The high-performance, lower-power Ivy Bridge design facilitates the newest generation of Ultrabooks, embodied in a fresh form-factor that many folks hope will breathe new life into the diminishing notebook marketplace. With tablets increasingly grabbing mind and market share, Intel is placing its bets on Ivy Bridge-powered Ultrabooks to help turn the tide.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , May 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    Wow, it looks like Ivy Bridge is a very compelling option in the mobile market. I had no idea the mobile versions of Llano were so performance constrained by their TDP. The graphics performance results are especially interesting. Just turned my whole world view upside down.

    Great job. Another excellent review Andrew.
  • 15 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 14, 2012 5:30 AM
    ... why there waz no screenshots of picture quality differences in games between intel's HD4000 and AMD's HD6620?
  • 13 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , May 14, 2012 5:49 AM
    @ 400$ for this benchmarked processor...really, it should beat every Liano ^-
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    fstrthnu , May 14, 2012 4:47 AM
    Would there be a noticeable performance gap between the i7-3720QM and the i7-3612/5QM? I'm trying to decide whether the extra 300 Mhz is worth ~$150 more (which I'm guessing not really)
  • 4 Hide
    s3anister , May 14, 2012 4:57 AM
    fstrthnuWould there be a noticeable performance gap between the i7-3720QM and the i7-3612/5QM? I'm trying to decide whether the extra 300 Mhz is worth ~$150 more (which I'm guessing not really)


    There would be a performance difference in applications that could use the extra MHz (Video games, encoding/decoding) and performance would scale accordingly. Otherwise no you'd likely never notice.
  • 20 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , May 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    Wow, it looks like Ivy Bridge is a very compelling option in the mobile market. I had no idea the mobile versions of Llano were so performance constrained by their TDP. The graphics performance results are especially interesting. Just turned my whole world view upside down.

    Great job. Another excellent review Andrew.
  • 0 Hide
    fstrthnu , May 14, 2012 5:10 AM
    It looks like the Geforce GT650M in the notebook I'm looking at would bottleneck faster than the processor would, so I guess I'll save $$ then
  • 2 Hide
    amiame , May 14, 2012 5:21 AM
    A high end desktop plus an ivy bridge ultrabook. Now, THAT works pretty well.
  • 15 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 14, 2012 5:30 AM
    ... why there waz no screenshots of picture quality differences in games between intel's HD4000 and AMD's HD6620?
  • 7 Hide
    blazorthon , May 14, 2012 5:36 AM
    dragonsqrrlWow, it looks like Ivy Bridge is a very compelling option in the mobile market. I had no idea the mobile versions of Llano were so performance constrained by their TDP. The graphics performance results are especially interesting. Just turned my whole world view upside down.Great job. Another excellent review Andrew.


    To be fair, it was a low power APU being bench-marked against higher end, higher power, and newer chips. I would be surprised if it won much of anything, besides power usage, against the Sandy and Ivy i7s. A higher TDP mobile A8 might be able to beat HD 4000 if it had 1600MHz or maybe even 1866MHz memory, granted it still wouldn't win in CPU performance.
  • 4 Hide
    ojas , May 14, 2012 5:40 AM
    Interesting review. But i guess people are likely to point out differences in price (thus affecting performance/$), and RAM speeds, which apparently impact IGP performance.

    IIRC, the IGPs on the mobile chips can be OC'd, right?

    Quote:
    The Core i7-3720QM particularly shines in tests involving:

    Video Transcoding
    DX9 Graphics
    Web Browsing

    Hmmm...wouldn't you agree that "data decryption" should be on this list too? The difference b/w each proc is significant...plus you've got hardware acceleration for AES256 on SB and IB...

    I hope the mobile i3s get HD4000...still wondering why the i5s didn't get it...
  • 7 Hide
    DavidC1 , May 14, 2012 5:44 AM
    Andrew, love the review. But there's what seems to be a big error. You said on the power usage tests that AMD defaults to max battery life while Intel goes to balanced? Looking at World of Warcraft results, it looks like all the other results may be running max battery life mode for the AMD A8 chip.

    The i5-460M is faster than A8-3520M, just not that much faster. I have a feeling you need to run the application and gaming tests on max performance all over again. It doesn't matter for the Intel part as Balanced pretty much performs like max performance.
  • 5 Hide
    DavidC1 , May 14, 2012 5:46 AM
    Also, you need to do a battery life test. Power usage and battery life tests are hard to connect, because of advanced power management techniques and different usage models.
  • 13 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , May 14, 2012 5:49 AM
    @ 400$ for this benchmarked processor...really, it should beat every Liano ^-
  • 4 Hide
    DavidC1 , May 14, 2012 5:53 AM
    ojasInteresting review. But i guess people are likely to point out differences in price (thus affecting performance/$), and RAM speeds, which apparently impact IGP performance.IIRC, the IGPs on the mobile chips can be OC'd, right?Hmmm...wouldn't you agree that "data decryption" should be on this list too? The difference b/w each proc is significant...plus you've got hardware acceleration for AES256 on SB and IB...I hope the mobile i3s get HD4000...still wondering why the i5s didn't get it...


    ojas, All the Core branded mobile chips have the full graphics. For Sandy Bridge that's HD 3000, and for Ivy Bridge its HD 4000. I think you are too much into desktops. ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , May 14, 2012 6:09 AM
    ojasInteresting review. But i guess people are likely to point out differences in price (thus affecting performance/$), and RAM speeds, which apparently impact IGP performance.IIRC, the IGPs on the mobile chips can be OC'd, right?Hmmm...wouldn't you agree that "data decryption" should be on this list too? The difference b/w each proc is significant...plus you've got hardware acceleration for AES256 on SB and IB...I hope the mobile i3s get HD4000...still wondering why the i5s didn't get it...


    I think that it's just the desktop i5s and i3s that won't have HD 4000. The mobile ones should have it, kinda like how the mobile Sandy i3s, i5s, and i7s more or less all have HD 3000, but the same is not true for their desktop counterparts. Well, the i5-3570K gets HD 4000, so it's the only exception to the desktop i5s not having HD 4000 and that's just because it's a K edition.
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , May 14, 2012 6:14 AM
    Quote:
    Honestly I find these benches a bit contradicting compared to the benches done by Anand with the A8 mobiles.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4444/amd-llano-notebook-review-a-series-fusion-apu-a8-3500m/11

    The Review clearly show the A8 with IGP is at least 2X as fast as the HD3000 with i5 CPU


    Actually, that clearly shows that the 6620G of the A8s is only marginally better than the HD 3000 and that with the 6630M, the A8s are then closer to twice as fast (some of the time) as the HD3000-using equipped Sandy systems. Keep in mind that the mobile versions of Intel's IGPs are similar to the desktop versions, but the mobile Llano IGPs are much slower than the desktop versions, so on the mobile side, they clash much more, instead of Llano wiping the floor with Intel's IGPs. Trinity will almost certainly let AMD take the lead in mobile graphics IGPs again. Until then, AMD always has the ability to do CF with the IGP and still use similar amounts or even less power than Intel while beating Intel for graphics performance, although Llano clearly can't touch Sandy and Ivy in CPU performance.
  • 2 Hide
    jrharbort , May 14, 2012 6:45 AM
    The chart on the first page has a small error. The 3610QM is 2.3GHz, and the 3612QM is 2.1GHz. It's easy to see how the model numbers would be confusing though. The price for both, including the 3615QM, is $378.

    http://ark.intel.com/products/family/65506
  • 4 Hide
    humbi83 , May 14, 2012 7:12 AM
    s3anisterThere would be a performance difference in applications that could use the extra MHz (Video games, encoding/decoding) and performance would scale accordingly. Otherwise no you'd likely never notice.


    And don't forget VT-d. That will help you if you are interested in virtualization.
  • 3 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , May 14, 2012 8:00 AM
    blazorthonActually, that clearly shows that the 6620G of the A8s is only marginally better than the HD 3000[...]

    You must not be reading the same article as the rest of us if that's your conclusion.
  • 2 Hide
    ojas , May 14, 2012 10:26 AM
    DavidC1ojas, All the Core branded mobile chips have the full graphics. For Sandy Bridge that's HD 3000, and for Ivy Bridge its HD 4000. I think you are too much into desktops.

    Um...well, i'll cite this statement from Chris Angelini's desktop IB review:
    Quote:
    This time around, Intel divides up 3D alacrity a little differently. All mobile and desktop Core i7s get HD Graphics 4000, and all but one (Core i5-3570K) mobile and desktop Core i5s get HD Graphics 2500.
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , May 14, 2012 10:39 AM
    KyuuketsukiYou must not be reading the same article as the rest of us if that's your conclusion.


    First benchmark is Battlefield: Bad Company 2
    DX10 Low, FRAPS Runthrough

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 48.1FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 30.4FPS
    The A8 is 58% faster than the i5.


    Second benchmark is Civilization V
    DX10/11 Low, LateGameView Benchmark

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 28.6FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 10.7FPS
    The A8 is 167% faster than the i5.


    Third benchmark is DiRt 2
    DX9 Ultra Low, Built-In Benchmark

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 68.1FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 44.3FPS
    A8 is 54% faster than the i5.


    Fourth benchmark is Left For Dead 2
    Low, Timedemo

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 67FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 48.5FPS
    A8 is 38% faster than the i5

    Fifth benchmark is Mafia 2
    Low, Built-In Benchmark

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 34.2FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 16.5FPS
    A8 is 108% faster than i5.


    Sixth benchmark is Mass Effect 2
    Low, FRAPS Runthrough

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 52.1FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 35.8FPS
    A8 is 43% faster than i5.


    Seventh benchmark is Metro 2033
    DX10 Low, Built-In Benchmark

    1366x768
    A83500M+6620G = 28.6FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 17FPS
    A8 is 68% faster than i5.

    Eighth benchmark is STALKER: Call of Pripyat
    Low + Object, Standalone Benchmark

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 61.7FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 36.3FPS
    A8 is 70% faster than the i5.


    StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
    Low, FRAPS Playback

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 49.4FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 51.2FPS
    i5 is 5% faster than A8.


    Ninth benchmark is Total War: Shogun 2
    Low, Replay Benchmark

    1366x768
    A8-3500M+6620G = 79FPS
    i5-2520M+HD3000 = 55.1FPS
    A8 is 43% faster than i5.

    Total for A8-3500M+6620G = 516.8
    Total for i5-2520M+HD3000 = 345.8

    The A8 is clearly not double the i5. When I said marginally, I missed that the post I replied to referred to i5s, not i7s, so yes, I was wrong on that. However, the post that I replied to was still wrong as well. The i7 would have changed that total FPS from 345.8 to 397.9. The A8 is only 49% faster than the i5, on average, and that is very far from double. The i7 would have brought that down to a mere 30%. Still, I suppose that this is a good deal more than marginally greater, so yes, I was wrong, but nonetheless, so was the post that I replied to. The A8 might be about twice as fast as the mobile i3s with HD 3000, but not the i5s and not even close at that.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 14, 2012 10:51 AM
    Why did you only pick out the low quality benchmarks to make your point, blazorthorn? Anantech said that the difference was more pronounced (76% improvement over HD3000) at medium quality.
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