That does not mean you are not getting some in hardware processing though. Looking things over is seems that Intel has made some significant changes to the way certain items are handled by the GPU. On the Clarkdale most of your video processing was done by software. With Sandy Bridge everything is moved into hardware. Intel calls this Quick Sync Video. This new GPU bound technology will be available in more than a few software titles this year.
Another new feature (and one we expect from new CPUs) is an improved power design. Intel has created a new power algorithm that allows them to combine the CPU, GPU and many functions of the Northbridge into a single monolithic die that still fits into a 95W TDP envelope (even less on the mobile CPUs). This new power algorithm is tied into the Trubo Boost 2.0 feature and can dynamically allocate power to both the CPU and GPU as needed.
This comes into play with single threaded applications that may be graphics intensive (like some older games) but does have a small drawback. If you remember with Clarkdale there were certain issues with overclocking if you were using the built-in graphics. This was due to the way the CPU allocated power between the two separate pieces (CPU and GPU). With Sandy Bridge the CPU and GPU are part of one monolithic die. They share cache and also power gates.
Because of this Intel has had to lock the power gates to the BCLK. This prevents almost all BLCK overclocking as any adjustment to the 100MHz BCLK can throw the power system into disarray. That does not mean you can't overclock, it just means that you will have to stick with kicking up the multiplier instead of adjusting the internal BCLK. We will show you what we mean a little later in our overclocking section.
Next up on the "new" list is a new set of instructions called AVX or Advanced Vector Extension. This new set of instructions allows for "enhanced floating point intensive application performance" This is an extension of the existing x86 instruction set and pushes the SMID registers from 128 to 256-bits.
Additional features of this new set of instructions are the ability to combine two operands (instructions) to be combined into a three part group where the destination or outcome is a completely different register than exist in the original two instruction group.
For example if you have X:=X+Y AVX can change this to Q:=X+Y this maintains the integrity of the operands in the original two registers. This type of instruction is great for workloads that require intensive number crunching. It also happens to be great for multi-media and content creation. Both of which happen to be about number crunching when you boil everything else away.
There are other items that are in the new Sandy Bridge, things like a new socket. Moving from the 1156 to 1155 (because of the inclusion of the GPU). But when it all comes down to it Sandy Bridge is all about Multi-media. Whether it is watching a Blu-ray movie, encoding video for YouTube, or playing a game, Intel has built this new CPU with those features and market demands in mind even the new AVX instructions are aimed and content consumption and creation. Now it is up to us to see if it can live up to Intel's claims.
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