Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review

Blu-ray Playback And Video Performance

That takes care of the encode/transcode optimizations, but what about decode? I really wanted to know what Arcsoft and CyberLink were doing with Quick Sync leading up to launch, so I spent time with both companies talking about their work.

Sub-10 percent utilization on a mobile CPU

It turns out that the decode pipeline on Sandy Bridge is so complete that even the AACS decryption is offloaded to fixed-function hardware. AACS employs AES encryption, which most Sandy Bridge-based CPUs accelerate, so that’s rather convenient.

In a best-case scenario, Arcsoft’s reps say that you bitstream encoded Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio to an HDMI 1.3- or 1.4-capable receiver (meaning there is no audio decoding for the CPU to do) and see CPU utilization as low as 0% playing back Blu-ray content.

Bitstreaming DTS-HD Master Audio

I used CyberLink’s PowerDVD 10 bitstreaming audio and didn’t get results that stunning. However, CPU utilization did hover around 10% on a Core i7-2820QM-equipped notebook while watching Quantum of Solace, which employs AVC.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • JE_D
    BENCHIES! Thanks Tomshardware!
  • Editor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
  • cangelini
    MoneyFace pEditor, page 10 has mistakes. Its LGA1155, not LGA1555.
    Fixed, thanks Money!
  • juncture
    "an unlocked Sandy Bridge chip for $11 extra is actually pretty damn sexy."

    i think the author's saying he's a sexually active cyberphile
  • cangelini
    juncturei think the author's saying he's sexually active
    Just this.
  • fakie
    Contest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.

    Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(
  • englandr753
    Great article guys. Glad to see you got your hands on those beauties. I look forward to you doing the same type of review with bulldozer. =D
  • joytech22
    Wow Intel owns when it came to converting video, beating out much faster dedicated solutions, which was strange but still awesome.

    I don't know how AMD's going to fare but i hope their new architecture will at least compete with these CPU's, because for a few years now AMD has been at least a generation worth of speed behind Intel.

    Also Intel's IGP's are finally gaining some ground in the games department.
  • cangelini
    fakieContest is limited to residents of the USA (excluding Rhode Island) 18 years of age and older.Everytime there's a new contest, I see this line. =(
    I really wish this weren't the case fakie--and I'm very sorry it is. We're unfortunately subject to the will of the finance folks and the government, who make it hard to give things away without significant tax ramifications. I know that's of little consolation, but that's the reason :(

  • LuckyDucky7
    "It’s the value-oriented buyers with processor budgets between $100 and $150 (where AMD offers some of its best deals) who get screwed."

    I believe that says it all. Sorry, Intel, your new architecture may be excellent, but unless the i3-2100 series outperforms anything AMD can offer at the same price range WHILE OVERCLOCKED, you will see none of my desktop dollars.

    That is all.