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.

Click to Enlarge

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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  • Belard - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    With these intel model numbers, it seems they have hired some people from nVidia?

    Thank AMD for making intel CPUs affordable.

    I own both brands of CHIPS.... and my current main desktop is an Intel Core2Quad, but I've been building AMD systems for most people and since the Phenom II X2~X4 CPUs, I've not had to go with Intel again. I like my system.

    Reliability and compatibility are not an issue with AMD or their soon to be EX-ATI, graphics products.
  • freeman70 - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Very interesting. I have the same opinion. I have an older overclocked Core2Quad rig (Q6600 overclocked to 3.2GHz) but I have chosen to build cheap AMD systems for friends and family. They honestly can't tell the difference and with the pricing of AMD motherboards with pretty decent IGPs and cheap quad core CPUs like the Athlon X4, it's hard to justify the extra $100 for me to build them an Intel rig with a crappy Intel IGP. However, it seems with Sandy Bridge, Intel will finally provide relatively decent graphics performance. Now, if they just don't price their bloody motherboards components outrangeously. I thought since they were integrating the GPU on package or on die, motherboards would get cheaper because they would only need a single chip instead of the old northbridge/southbridge but motherboards with Intel chipsets just seem to keep increasing in price with no real added value. It will definitely be interesting to see what kind of performance the new series of desktop and mobile CPUs and chipsets from both companies will provide.
  • Thermogenic - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    I'm with you - just built a rig for my Dad and it was using Athlon II X2 with an older 785G DDR2 chipset. With the money I saved from using intel (mostly in the motherboard), I got him a 4850 graphics card. Not state of the art, but the entire build, including an Antec 300 case, was around $400, plus $100 for the Microsoft tax.

    On the low end, AMD is still the best value. For a web surfer, you can build a solid AMD rig running a free operating system for around $325 - not bad at all. An equivalent intel system would be around $400.
  • Jamahl - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    Maybe you want to check the new Mac OS drivers, which already have the full range of 6000 series drivers waiting.

  • danielkza - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    "the only indication that .. .isn't is the letter Q."

    First page, 4th paragraph.
  • LyCannon - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    I think many are overlooking the possibility of writing parallel code on GPU's. I know that nVidia is CUDA, AMD has their "own" type of GPU code, what about Intel?

    Even better, what about Intel, AMD, and nVidia getting together with Microsoft and writing a new DirectX API for general GPU processing.
  • DesktopMan - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    "OpenCL was initially developed by Apple Inc., which holds trademark rights, and refined into an initial proposal in collaboration with technical teams at AMD, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia."

    They already got together and made OpenCL, which in contrast to DirectX is quite platform independent.

    Why Intel hasn't implemented it on their own GPUs yet is anyone's guess.
  • chizow - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    The "Why hasn't Intel jumped onboard with OpenCL" should be glaringly obvious, its a threat to their x86 stranglehold on the desktop and server markets and the emerging HPC market everyone wants a piece of.

    A platform/architecture agnostic programming language marginalizes the importance and reliance on x86, and while Intel is a fully paid-in contributing member of the Khronos Group that oversees the OpenCL spec, they're really just there to monitor its progress imo.

    They're instead promoting their own parallel programming language, Ct, that will of course leverage and promote Intel's own compilers and x86 architecture.

    Similarly, Microsoft is absent from participating in the Khronos Group/OpenCL, as it provides a threat to their own proprietary APIs like DirectX/DirectCompute.
  • rootheday - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    I believe Intel must have some sort of parallel GPU support - see

    Toshiba's Resolution+ is a proprietary video processing upscaling technology. It apparently works on Intel HD graphics in Core i3/i5/i7 today.
  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 30, 2010 - link

    The primary reason that the current MBP13 is using Penryn instead of Arrandale is due to Intel HD Graphics' lack of OpenCL support.

    Apple is definitely gearing up to use AMD processors and GPUs.

    And AMD products aren't rubbish. Their new quad-core mobile processors are absolutely on par with the high-end Mobile i3 and Mobile i5 chips from Intel, consume the same amount of power, have better integrated graphics... and are cheaper.

    If I hadn't bought my laptop when I did, I'd probably be using a lappy with one of those mobile quad Phenoms.

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