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IDF 2010: Upcoming Sandy Bridge CPU overclocks well

by Tarinder Sandhu on 14 September 2010, 22:37

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Benchmarks? Not this time

Intel demonstrated the upcoming Sandy Bridge microarchitecture at a benchmarking session during its annual developer forum. The chip company ran us through a bunch of tests that showed the desktop iteration of the Sandy Bridge CPU to be, on average, around 20 per cent faster than what was termed an equivalent Core i7 chip. The top-performing SB chips are based on a quad-core, eight-threaded design, much like current Lynnfield-based Core i7s, so the comparison is reasonably valid.

Being rather more coy with performance numbers than usual, Intel prohibited press from divulging the exact scores obtained from the Sandy Bridge processor. This seems rather strange in the face of publicly-available numbers published by a well-known website, but who are we to argue, right?

What we can tell you is that the 32nm Sandy Bridge chips overclock rather well, but you'll need to invest in a multiplier-unlocked K-series CPU to take advantage of the frequency headroom that exists in the part. This is because Intel's new architecture isn't partial to increases in the base clock - the simplest method used to overclock most current CPUs - as notching it up causes various linked clocks (GPU, for one) to be thrown out of kilter. Boo hoo!

Lots of headroom

Going by what we saw at the benchmarking session, Sandy Bridge K-series chips will scale better than current-generation Core i7 (LGA1156), to the tune of an extra 10 per cent. Do the maths and you can calculate the air-cooled speed without too many problems, we hope.

Punters looking to take advantage of these new chips will need a new motherboard, unfortunately, as Intel keeps the same mechanical socket but changes the pin layout from LGA1156 to LGA1155. The reason for the change - other than to extract more money from your pocket, no doubt - is, for one, to enable the graphics portion to output video correctly; it now has native DisplayPort connectivity.

Motherboard manufacturers will bring in the also-new 6-series chipset in with the Q1 2011 launch of the chips. They'll be thankful that physical changes between sockets are few and far between.

LGA1156 (Lynnfield support) on the left, LGA1155 (Sandy Bridge support) on the right

Examination of these tiddly boards shows that Intel won't be rolling USB 3.0 into the 6-series chipset; the right-hand board uses the ubiquitous NEC controller to provide SuperSpeed performance for the blue-coloured ports.

Sandy Bridge (right) provides DisplayPort natively

Intel's upcoming chips will provide roughly twice the graphics performance of present IGPs. They will also be available in low-TDP versions, making them suitably attractive as HTPC solutions. The real litmus test of the mainstream Sandy Bridge proposition will come when it's up against AMD's Fusion APU parts, and we wait for the showdown with bated breath.


HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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Nice summary.
why do they have to keep changing Sockets it's Blooming annoying.
danroyle
why do they have to keep changing Sockets it's Blooming annoying.

Its so they can give added functionality… to their end of year figures. This has long been a feature of Intels business model that only changed when AMD's Athlon CPUs took the speed crown and Intel was on the back foot.
cordas
Its so they can give added functionality… to their end of year figures. This has long been a feature of Intels business model that only changed when AMD's Athlon CPUs took the speed crown and Intel was on the back foot.

I doubt it. Intel is not a motherboard manufacturer. (Well, they are, but not a big one.)

I think it would make more business sense to keep the same socket for as long as possible. Customers will be more inclined to buy their CPUs if the company is known for providing an economical upgrade path.

I would like to think there must be technical reasons for the changes.

Although, I suppose it's possible that they (or some individuals in the company's upper management) could be getting certain “benefits” from their motherboard manufacturer partners in exchange for requiring a new socket.
latrosicarius
I would like to think there must be technical reasons for the changes.

The Article
The reason for the change - other than to extract more money from your pocket, no doubt - is, for one, to enable the graphics portion to output video correctly; it now has native DisplayPort connectivity.

So yes, there's at least one technical reason to change the pin layout…