Today marks the release of Intel’s third-generation Core i ‘Ivy Bridge’ processors, which the latest test results suggest will increase CPU performance by around 10 percent and integrated graphics by 75 percent. See also: Intel launches Ivy Bridge processor family.
With nine desktop models in the i5 and i7 series and six i7 variations destined for the portable market, these processors are the first batch of what will eventually be a complete refresh of Intel’s CPU line-up. See all: PC upgrade advice, news and reviews.
The boffins at Hardware.Info have worked hard to deliver 35 pages of analysis and test results of three of the new Ivy Bridge desktop models in an extensive review of the i7-3770K, the i5-3570K and the i5-3550.
The major improvement in the new Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs is actually the built-in graphics part.
In particular the high-end version, called HD Graphics 4000, is definitely an improvement over Intel’s previous offerings in this department.
Most of the new models will be outfitted with something called HD Graphics 2500, though, which shows a smaller but still impressive improvement.
This new generation of integrated graphics means another nail in the coffin for discrete graphics cards on non-gaming systems, but gamers will still want to install a decent separate GPU.
Even so, if you are only interested in the occasional casual game, you will be pleased to learn Ivy Bridge’s new integrated video supports DirectX 11 and packs quite a bit more punch than before.
Intel’s new generation provides a neat improvement for those in the shape of PCI-Express 3.0, doubling bandwidth compared to the previous generation’s 2.0 version.
Recent mainboards were already prepared for this, but Intel still released a new chipset series to take full advantage of Ivy Bridge’s new capabilities.
Based on tests we can conclude that the new Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 models perform about 10 per cent better than the Sandy Bridge variants in CPU limited benchmarks.
The integrated graphics meanwhile show a marked improvement of up to 75 per cent over the previous generation.
It is an impressive achievement indeed, particularly considering that the new generation consumes slightly less power.
This is due to several architectural improvements which should lead to a longer stand-by time for laptops and a lower power draw in general.
The performance per watt rating, which is very popular these days, is therefore unequalled, with the Santa Clara-based giant maintaining its clear advantage over Austin-based competitor AMD in this respect as well.
A silver lining for the underdog: AMD’s integrated graphics performance is still superior, though Intel is getting close indeed.
As followers of all things Intel probably know, Intel has a so-called ‘tick-tock’ approach to product updates, with a ‘tick’ being a switch to a new production process (i.e. things are getting smaller), and a ‘tock’ a change of architecture.
Today’s ‘tick’ follows on the previous generation’s ‘tock’, which was based on the entirely new Sandy Bridge architecture.
Ivy Bridge could therefore be seen as a relatively minor overhaul, focusing first and foremost on the switch to a new production process.
The smaller transistor size (only 22nm; 1nm equals one billionth of a metre) are one of the main reasons why Ivy Bridge is more energy efficient than Sandy Bridge, its predecessor.
This is obviously important for the environment (and your bank account), but also increases battery life for notebooks based on the new CPUs.