The Roadmap

The roadmap for mobile is a lot easier to read through than the desktop one. There aren't as many competing products within a given price class. I've put together the Q3 2010 - Q3 2011 mobile CPU roadmap below, but I've left out the value segments. Sandy Bridge won't make it down there until late next year at this point, so Celerons are off limits for now.

If you're an Apple user the parts you'll want to pay attention to are the 2620, 2540 and 2520 - these will likely be in the next 15-inch MacBook Pro. Clock speeds are up slightly compared to what Apple is shipping today, which means you'll probably see at least a 10%+ performance improvement across the board. I'd expect that number to grow to as high as 15 - 20% depending on the application.

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I don't believe Apple will abandon NVIDIA as a result of Sandy Bridge's vastly improved graphics given SB's lack of OpenCL support.

Final Words

Sandy Bridge looks to be very capable, both on the desktop and mobile side. Both CPU and GPU performance are much improved, the latter particularly in notebooks as all launch mobile Sandy Bridge parts will ship with the higher end 12 EU configuration. Intel is clearly going after the low hanging fruit in the GPU market, though I'm curious to see how far upstream Intel will push its advance.

It's not very hard for Intel to more than double integrated graphics performance. The question is how will it compare to AMD's Llano, a part that will undoubtedly have a competant GPU but a CPU core based on AMD's Phenom II architecture. 2011 is going to be an exciting time for the semiconductor market.

The Processors
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  • SteelCity1981 - Saturday, September 11, 2010 - link

    Um it was a refresh to the current lineup. Sure it may have been the same core logic but it was still an update even intel states that. idiot.
  • Mike1111 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    I'm really interested to see what Apple will put into the MacBook Pro 13-inch. Because if Apple won't abandon Nvidia because of the missing OpenCL support in Sandy Bridge, are they gonna have to keep the years-old Core 2 Duo around??? There doesn't seem to be an obvious solution for Apple, apart from adding a power hungry dedicated graphics card like with the 15-inch.
  • Roland00 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Reason is Llano is a 2 chip solution.
    Chip 1 is Chipset
    Chip 2 is CPU+GPU

    SandyBridge with a discrete graphic card would be a 3 chip solution
    Chip 1 is Chipset
    Chip 2 is SandyBridge CPU
    Chip 3 is Nvidia or ATI GPU with apples version of Optimus

    Besides space and cost considerations; having a different 13 inch vs 15 inch may be incentive for you to spend another 500 to 600, average selling price that the 15inch has over the 13inch Macbook pro, due to the fact that Sandybridge CPU+Separate Graphic Card will probably be faster in both CPU and GPU tasks (though not necessarily in battery life.)
  • pcfxer - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    They are going with AMD/ATi. You just watch and see.
  • Roland00 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    though it is too far in the future to truely know (instead of rumors) which models will use AMD and which will use Intel. For all we know they may use Bobcat for Apple TV, Llano for Mac Mini, and a combination of Llano and SB for the Macbook Pros. Who knows what they will use the for the standard Macbook and IMac.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    When Apple was getting the G5 chip from IBM, there were huge supply problems. This and the performance/watt efficiency of Intel processors forced Apple to the x86 architecture.

    Apple is not about to go back to the supply problem days of the G5, and AMD has has lots of supply issues. AMD should be the discrete graphics provider though.
  • erple2 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Honestly, the primary reason why Apple went with Intel over the mobile G5, and G6 chip was supply reasons - Intel was willing to put Apple in its "preferred" category, something IBM and company weren't willing to do with the G5+'s.

    IBM was in the process of developing the low power G5 chips for use in mobile Apple's, but that was <b>not</b> the focus of IBM. Intel already had low power CPU's available, and was willing to treat Apple as a first-rate reseller. I think that's why Apple went with Intel.
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    What supply issues? Apple can use CPUs from both companies, just like it uses GPUs from both. That means you are LESS likely of supply issues, so long as Intel doesn't threaten Apple with limited product lines. I doubt that will happen, after the AMD settlement.
  • iwodo - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Again, if Dual Core GPU works like current SLI and Crossfire then we will need constant drivers update. Which is not a good thing.

    With these amount of GPU power may be we can finally move all of the Desktop Display Rendering to GPU.

    The mention of Nvidia is interesting. For Apple which wants every system to be OpenCL capable, would need another GPU. However the systems which only has 2 Chips space would means either Apple have to make an OpenCL drivers for Intel GPU or get a Nvidia Chipset. ( Via the PCI - Express Interface ).

    Now the only thing missing from my next set up is an Super Fast and affordable SSD.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    I seriously doubt we're looking at anything like SLI/CF. This is merely a doubling of the number of GPU execution units (EUs), similar to the way NVIDIA has 16 and 32 CUDA cores, or AMD has 40 and 80 stream processors. What we don't know is if the number of shader processors is the only thing to double--i.e. is there an increase in the number of ROPs as well?

    Bandwidth is the one thing that almost certainly won't increase between the two variants, so there will be games that run into bandwidth limitations, but for mobile GPUs with DDR3-1600 we're still talking about far more bandwidth than most entry GPUs get. There you have 64-bit DDR2/3~1600 is common, so we're looking at sharing roughly twice times that much bandwidth with the CPU, if we're talking about 310M and HD5470.

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