December 23, 2012

2012 Technology Year in Review: Intel Ivy Bridge (April)

Following its usual Tick-Tock scheme, Intel introduced the newest “tick” - the processors codenamed “Ivy Bridge”. Based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, this “tick” shrunk the manufacturing process from 32 nm to 22 nm tri-gate 3D transistor (FINFET) technology. By doing so, Intel offers similar performance at lower power consumption. Intel also introduced their upgraded GPU, the HD 4000, with 16 Execution Units. Performance is increased anywhere from 25 - 68%, but does not exceed the performance of AMD’s APUs. With the new GPU comes the second version of Intel Quick Sync video, for transcoding video at ultra-fast speeds. Disappointingly, the new CPUs run at higher temperatures than the previous generation, possibly due to the immature process, thermal density, and that Intel used Thermal Interface Material instead of solder in between the chip and the heat spreader.

At this point in time, we would recommend the purchase of Ivy Bridge processors for laptops, as power consumption is reduced, while graphics performance is increased. On the other hand, there’s a grey area when choosing between Sandy and Ivy Bridge for desktops. Some may want the features of PCI Express 3.0 which is included with Ivy Bridge, allowing you to take advantage of the bus speed when using high performance GPUs such as the GTX 680 and HD 7970. However, that comes with increased temperatures, something that is a pain to overclockers. With every new Intel process, the naming schemes get worse, as the GPU number doesn’t match with the CPU number, which in turn doesn’t match with the enthuasist CPUs.