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Intel unveils Sandy Bridge

Sandy Bridge brings the GPU and CPU onto a single die

By Darien Graham-Smith in San Francisco

Posted on 13 Sep 2010 at 20:29

Intel has officially unveiled Sandy Bridge, its latest platform architecture, at the first day of IDF in San Francisco.

Click here for the full technical details of Sandy Bridge

The platform is the successor to the Nehalem/Westmere architecture and integrates graphics directly onto the CPU die.

It also upgrades the Turbo Mode already seen in Core i5 and i7 processors to achieve even greater speed improvements.

The integration of GPU and CPU onto a single die (rather than separate dies within the chip package, as with Westmere processors) enables both to share on-chip cache RAM, enabling the GPU to work more efficiently on larger amounts of data.

Both CPU and GPU have also received extensive on-chip optimisations, including new processor instructions known as AVX. According to Intel Fellow and Sandy Bridge engineer Tom Piazza, a notebook built on a Sandy Bridge processor ought to be powerful enough to run “most mainstream games” at native resolutions.

Meanwhile, Turbo Mode on Sandy Bridge processors can now draw more than the chip’s nominal TDP where the system is cool enough to do so safely, enabling even greater boosts in core speeds than those seen in Westmere.

“We really believe this is a leading-edge product,” declared Intel vice president Stephen Smith, summing up the technical advances incorporated into Sandy Bridge. “We’ve really been able to deliver a leap in performance within the same thermal design.”

No details of specific products have been made available, but Intel has confirmed that processors built on the new architecture will be referred to as “second generation Core processors”, and are expected to go on sale in early 2011. In 2012 it is due to be shrunk to a 22nm process, under the name Ivy Bridge.

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