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Sandy Bridge

Intel Developer Forum, Day One
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New microarchitectures from Intel are always greeted with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, ever since Netburst arrived on the scene. While the Pentium 4 generation was arguably a successful one from a revenue standpoint, it proved to be something of a heat-prone dead end. Conroe redeemed Intel’s reputation, and the next generation, Nehalem, enhanced the company’s reputation even more. Will the third new redesign since Netburst continue to improve?

When it comes to the overall product mix, Sandy Bridge, or as Intel is calling it, “Second Generation Core Architecture,” will eventually consolidate the mainstream and mobile product lines into one process generation. The current mainstream desktop lineup consists of Lynnfield (45 nm quad-core) and Clarkdale (32 nm dual-core.) Mobile CPUs are similarly bifurcated as Clarksfield (45 nm quad-core) and Arrandale (32 nm dual-core.)

Sandy Bridge will be available in both dual- core and quad-core versions for both desktop and mobile PCs. Intel’s next-generation HD graphics will be fully integrated onto the CPU die--not just the package, as was the case with Arrandale/Clarkdale.

As with Nehalem and Westmere, Sandy Bridge has a split L1 cache with separate data and instruction caches, and a dedicated 256 KB L2 cache per core.

The Processor

Built on Intel’s existing 32 nm process, the microarchitecture includes a variety of key enhancements to the current Westmere/Nehalem architecture:

  • A new cache was added for decoded micro-ops (uOps). When loading decoded uOps from this cache, the x86 decode pipeline is turned off, saving power. Improvements were made to the branch prediction engine, improving overall throughput.

  • The architecture now supports two load/store ports, instead of just one. The data cache can handle two reads and one store per clock cycle.
  • The out-of-order execution engine was rebuilt from scratch, which was needed because Intel wanted to integrate support for 256-bit AVX floating point instructions into the pipeline. The AVX pipeline now includes a physical register file, decreasing data duplication and transfers. Intel estimates that use of the new instructions will increase floating point throughput 2x over the current SSE implementation. Note that Windows users will need Windows 7 SP1 (currently in beta) in order for apps to make use of AVX.


The overall CPU is highly modular, allowing Intel to easily build chips with differing numbers of cores, cache sizes, and even GPU execution units.

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  • 5 Hide
    dragon5677 , September 14, 2010 9:12 AM
    hope the day comes soon when sandy bridge is released with a surprisingly low price.
  • 4 Hide
    letsgetsteve , September 14, 2010 9:15 AM
    really not a fan of the pin change in mobo's but I guess I'm interested
  • -6 Hide
    kashifme21 , September 14, 2010 10:44 AM
    No point of having such powerful hardware, when 95% of current games can be run on a dual core cpu and an 8800gtx gpu @ max settings.

    Intel, Nvidia and AMD should rather pursue game developers to make use of current hardware instead of throwing newer hardware which most likely will be unused.

    Sandy Bridge aint needed for Web surfing or using Word pad any 8yr old CPU is enough for that. Bring on the games or i am not interested in any more upgrades.
  • 1 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 14, 2010 11:42 AM
    Quote:
    Overall, Sandy Bridge looks to be a solid mainstream offering. Performance enthusiasts should note that LGA 1366 is not going away, and Westmere-based hexa-core CPUs will continue to be offered. Intel even suggested that future LGA 1366 offerings may become available, but wasn’t prepared to make any definitive announcements.

    Unless they are offered at reasonable prices, I see no point in people investing in LGA 1366.
  • 3 Hide
    jfby , September 14, 2010 11:58 AM
    I don't think it's so much that people will want to invest in LGA 1366 but rather Intel will not support anything else.

    The argument to have only 16 lanes available doesn't seem legit; 'mainstream' gamers aren't going to buy a 1366 system at the moment.

    At least people who have bought a 1366 have a potential for an upgrade 2-3 years from now, though I'm sure the better choice will just be a brand new system, again.
  • 1 Hide
    pjmelect , September 14, 2010 12:42 PM
    Intel graphics even at twice the speed, no thanks. AMD could take a big lead over Intel if they integrate ATI graphics in their CPU's.
  • 6 Hide
    ScrewySqrl , September 14, 2010 1:25 PM
    dragon5677hope the day comes soon when sandy bridge is released with a surprisingly low price.


    Low priced? from Intel? You must be joking
  • 5 Hide
    atdhe , September 14, 2010 1:46 PM
    kashifme21No point of having such powerful hardware, when 95% of current games can be run on a dual core cpu and an 8800gtx gpu @ max settings.Intel, Nvidia and AMD should rather pursue game developers to make use of current hardware instead of throwing newer hardware which most likely will be unused.Sandy Bridge aint needed for Web surfing or using Word pad any 8yr old CPU is enough for that. Bring on the games or i am not interested in any more upgrades.


    You know, a computer can be used for more than just gaming, surfing or Word ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Trueno07 , September 14, 2010 2:33 PM
    more info here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/intels-sandy-bridge-architecture-exposed
  • 2 Hide
    wolfram23 , September 14, 2010 2:35 PM
    Glad to be missing this generation, as I just got an i5 750 earlier this year. Won't need to upgrade until at the earliest Ivy Bridge.

    I don't really like how so much die space gets wasted on their P67 platform. Hopefully they make special CPUS that are a little beefier and no on-die graphics for that chipset... tho it's unlikely.
  • -1 Hide
    jdamon113 , September 14, 2010 3:17 PM
    This direction is pointed at the business model, main stream deaktops.
    Yes they sound quite powerfull and will do well, Not sure why intel is leaving the high end market up in arms, I think until intel buys nvidia they will continue to be like this. Until then, we wait for X68 to come through or stick with aging technolgy in the X58 and the chips is supports.
    Today, intel all your managed to do was make me look forward to AMD's Next offerings. I still have run a 775 with an extrime chip. Its still fast and can stand up to a 1366 / 920 . From what I read here and other articals, my next platform will be AMD bulldozer.
  • -6 Hide
    f-14 , September 14, 2010 3:31 PM
    here's an idea to throw at intel, IBM had a 1GHZ cpu before 2000, nothing could cool it adequately at the time so they burned out right away P4 3.8 GHZ was out long before 2010, tell them to design for 4GHZ on their new high end products and their low end never dropping below 3GHZ. if they priced the 4GHZ around $300-$400 and the 3GHZ $100-200 they would sell about 5 times more product. i guess that just makes too much sense and they could gut their marketing department if they did that.
  • 0 Hide
    wa1 , September 14, 2010 5:07 PM
    A new tech = always for gaming and 3D works.
    You still can run ms.word (doc) on Pent.4 PC...
    Sigh...
  • 7 Hide
    nexus9113 , September 14, 2010 5:24 PM
    f-14here's an idea to throw at intel, IBM had a 1GHZ cpu before 2000, nothing could cool it adequately at the time so they burned out right away P4 3.8 GHZ was out long before 2010, tell them to design for 4GHZ on their new high end products and their low end never dropping below 3GHZ. if they priced the 4GHZ around $300-$400 and the 3GHZ $100-200 they would sell about 5 times more product. i guess that just makes too much sense and they could gut their marketing department if they did that.


    You clearly don't understand CPU design and engineering and haven't heard about the debunked "clockspeed myth".

    Clock speeds don't really mean much anymore, it's primarily about the architecture and how the CPU handles data. Hence why a 2.2GHz iX Core can outperform a Quadcore Core2 that might be clocked higher.
  • -5 Hide
    truerock , September 14, 2010 6:42 PM
    I think what I am hearing from Intel is:
    1. AMD isn't really pushing Intel competively - so Intel can be lazy about increasing the speed of its CPUs
    2. Because Intel doesn't need to develop faster CPUs they can try to rip off their customers with obsolete CPUs that incorporate non-CPU technology, i.e. video/graphics

    Intel has always wanted to avoid creating faster CPUs and put other technologies on their CPU chips. Granted, it was AMD that started the "a slower CPU can be better" myth. I understand that multi-CPU and enhanced memory architectures provide better throughput - but, nothing beats a faster CPU clock at most tasks. We have been stuck at less that 4 GHz for 7 years! That is insane. Intel has no viable competetor and is using its monopoly to screw everyone.
  • -8 Hide
    truerock , September 14, 2010 7:01 PM
    I bought my 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 CPU on eBay for $70. This year you can pay $1,200 for a 3.4 GHz Sandy Bridge CPU. I am not impressed. There is something very, very wrong with Intel.
  • 2 Hide
    onecallednick , September 14, 2010 9:39 PM
    What about overclocking? I hear that sandy bridge is going to be tough to OC what with the "system agent" controlling everything all at once.
  • 2 Hide
    warmon6 , September 15, 2010 12:38 AM
    truerockI think what I am hearing from Intel is:1. AMD isn't really pushing Intel competively - so Intel can be lazy about increasing the speed of its CPUs2. Because Intel doesn't need to develop faster CPUs they can try to rip off their customers with obsolete CPUs that incorporate non-CPU technology, i.e. video/graphicsIntel has always wanted to avoid creating faster CPUs and put other technologies on their CPU chips. Granted, it was AMD that started the "a slower CPU can be better" myth. I understand that multi-CPU and enhanced memory architectures provide better throughput - but, nothing beats a faster CPU clock at most tasks. We have been stuck at less that 4 GHz for 7 years! That is insane. Intel has no viable competetor and is using its monopoly to screw everyone.


    There is also a thing called IPC (instruction per clock) ...... The primary reason why a Athlon single core Athlon 64 at 2.2 GHz matched or beat a 3.2GHz HT p4 on most tasks back in the day......

    AMD never started a Myth about MHz speed. Intel started that the MYTH about MHz/GHz with there P4 when they notice that AMD had something that can compete and exceed there own product. Thus hoping that the public thats not educated in computers would see High GHz and would by there product. AMD countered that MYTH by stating that higher MHz does not equal higher performance.

    After a year or more of trying to push this myth, intel droped the rest of the Netburst line (after prescott, there was suppose to be Tejas and Nehalem) and with the core line. Which is much faster than the P4 even with only running 1 core on the core 2 line.

    Now for the Performance between Core i5 Sandy Bridge vs Core i5 Nehalem, I guess you haven't seen them as other sites like Anandtech has bench marks that are single cores and show this.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-preview-three-wins-in-a-row/9

    Core i5 2400 @ 3.1 without turbo boost on, beatting core i7 880 AND core i7 980x is impressive to me as it sounds those had turbo on.



    GHz Mean nothing these days. P4's (even though im typing on one as we speak) proved that. 3.8GHz (which was a p4) is the highest shipped cpu and that that was due to heat and amount of power needed to keep thats High GHz. Same issue even today. Even with IBM cpus for severs, they dont reach 3 ghz. (except for an experimental overclocked 500GHz chip thats not made on silicon but thats was 4 years ago.) IPC, better cache system, wider ram bandwidth, will be better for performance on single threaded stuff than higher ghz.
  • 1 Hide
    theoutbound , September 15, 2010 1:10 AM
    I think this is going to be the platform of choice for laptops going forward. Decent integrated graphics and low power draws have me excited for SB based laptops.
  • 1 Hide
    Proximon , September 15, 2010 1:38 AM
    I just remember how those dial telephones made my finger hurt. :) 
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