Same 32nm goodness, more efficient Microarchitecture
Tock- that’s where Intel is with the launch of their second generation Core CPU aka Sandy Bridge. For those who are unaware, Intel’s been following their Tick Tock model for the past few years where TOCK introduces a new generation of CPUs while TICK refines those CPUs by cutting down on the manufacturing process which happened last year when Intel switched to 32nm technology. Now, unlike the previous generation of Core CPUs where we saw the highest-end Core i7 Extreme Edition released first, Intel has chosen to release the mainstream CPUs this time around. Say hello to the Second Generation of Intel Core CPUs.
Lets get the worst thing about these new CPUs out of the way before talking about some of their new features and performance enhancements- these new CPUs bring a new socket with them. This is a bit of a shame as this will be the fourth socket for Intel CPUs in the last few years. We saw the move from LGA 775 found in Core 2 Duo CPUs to LGA 1366 with the introduction of the Core i7 extreme in 2008 which was followed by the mainstream Core i3, i5 and i7 CPUs with the LGA 1156 socket in 2009. What this means is that you will need a new motherboard if you plan on upgrading to the new Core CPU which has an LGA 1155 socket. With that out of the way, here is what these new Sandy Bridge CPU’s architecture look like
The biggest architectural change in Sandy bridge is that it Integrates CPU, Graphics, MC, PCI Express On Single Chip with the L3 Cache shared across all four cores and the processor graphics. This gives the integrated graphics a nice shot in the arm as far as performance is concerned and expect it to perform as well as the lower-end mainstream GPUs.
The second big thing about these new CPUs is Turbo Boost 2.0. Previously, Turbo Boost used to shut down your extra cores and boost the performance of a single core, however, with Turbo Boost 2.0, all cores are capable of receiving some extra boost of performance. Intel has also added a new instruction set called AVX in these new CPUs which improved floating point and vector computation.
Finally, these CPUs are a lot more efficient when it comes to battery life- something we will see once we evaluate the mobile version of this desktop. Since we are looking at the desktop line-up, lets introduce these new CPUs.
With the new generation of Core CPUs, there is a distinguished difference between the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 models. All Core i3 models are dual core while all Core i5 models are quad core with the Core i7 adding HyperThreading to the mix. The CPUs that end with a K are unlocked and targeted towards the enthusiast. With us today, we have the Core i5 2500K and Core i7 2600K models. The K at the end of the model denotes an unlocked CPU.