It is a New Year and time for a new CPU. We have been hearing about this one from Intel for quite a while now and it is time for us to see exactly what it has to offer in terms of performance and power.
Of course the CPU we are talking about it Sandy Bridge. This is a new CPU design along with a new Socket (1155 so you lose a pin). These CPUs are geared towards what they have identified as mega trends.
These are the same trends that we have told you about in the past, heavy video editing, transcoding, photo manipulation and gaming. We have been fortunate enough to get both a Core i7 2600K and a Core i5 2500K for testing. Let's take a look and see what they can do.
As part of Intel's "Tick Tock" the new Core i5 2500K and Core i7 2600K are a new design on a tested process. What does that mean? Well Intel typically moves to a new process or die shrink with an existing design (with some improvements) to help alleviate problems that could arise from trying to reduce transistor size AND build a new CPU. The first CPUs built on the 32nm process that Sandy Bridge will use were the Nehalem based Westmere CPUs. Again this was an extension of the Nehalem microarchitecture while Sandy Bridge is something new.
The first new item on the list (besides the 32nm process) is the inclusion of a GPU right inside the CPU die. This is not like the Clarkdale CPUs where the GPU was tacked onto the CPU packaging. Here we see the GPU as an integrated part of the CPU (it even shares the same cache as the CPU cores).
The new HD2000/3000 GPU is capable of supporting 3D Stereoscopic Blu-ray playback at 1080p over HDMI along with the usual HD audio. You also get DX10.1 (sorry no DX11 just yet) and Open GL 3.0 support and 3D gaming support.
The HD2000/3000 not only shares the cache of the CPU but also is directly connected to the CPU cores. This allows for much faster response and processing of data between the two components as well as fast access to the shared system memory. For those of you thinking about OpenCL and GPU processing we are not sure if you will be getting that at this stage. After all you do not get full OpenCL support until DX11.
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