Last week we published our preview of Intel's 2011 Core microarchitecture update, codenamed Sandy Bridge. In the preview we presented a conservative estimate of what shipping Sandy Bridge performance will look like in Q1 2011. I call it conservative because we were dealing with an early platform, with turbo disabled, compared to fairly well established competitors with their turbo modes enabled.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that this performance preview, ~5 months before launch, wasn't officially sanctioned or supported by Intel. All companies like to control the manner in which information about their products is released, regardless of whether the outcome is good or bad. We acquired the chip on our own, ran the benchmarks on our own and published the article, on our own. 

As a result a number of questions remained unanswered. I measured significantly lower L3 cache latencies on SB vs. Westmere/Nehalem, I just have no idea why they were lower. I suspect many of these questions will be answered at IDF, but the point is that we were flying blind on this one.

A big unknown was the state of Sandy Bridge graphics. As I mentioned in the preview, there will be two types of integrated graphics enabled on Sandy Bridge parts: 1 core and 2 core parts. Intel refers to them as GT1 and GT2, respectively. The GT1 parts have 6 execution units (EUs), while the GT2 parts have 12.

While some desktop parts will feature GT2, all notebook parts (at launch) will feature GT2. Based on the information I had while running our tests, it looked like the Sandy Bridge sample was a GT1 part. With no official support from Intel and no way to tell how many EUs the sample had, I had no way to confirm. Since publication I've received more information that points to our sample being a GT2 part. It's not enough for me to 100% confirm that it's GT2, but that's what it looks to be at this point.

If it is indeed a GT2 part, the integrated graphics performance in our preview is indicative of the upper end of what you can expect for desktops and in the range of what we'd expect from SB notebooks (graphics turbo may move numbers up a bit but it's tough to tell at this point since our sample didn't have turbo enabled). As soon as I got this information I made updates to the articles indicating our uncertainty. I never like publishing something I'm not 100% sure of and for that, I owe you an apology. We trusted that our sources on the GT1/6EU information were accurate and in this case they may not have been. We all strive to be as accurate as possible on AnandTech and when any of us fail to live up to that standard, regardless of reasoning, it hurts. Thankfully the CPU and GPU performance data are both accurate, although we're simply unsure if the GPU performance will apply to the i5 2400 or not (it should be indicative of notebook SB GPU performance and some desktop SB GPU performance).

The desktop Sandy Bridge GPU rollout is less clear. I've heard that the enthusiast K-SKUs will have GT2 graphics while the more mainstream parts will have GT1. I'm not sure this makes sense, but we'll have to wait and see.

Many of you have been drawing the comparison to Llano and how it will do vs. Sandy Bridge. Llano is supposed to be based on a modified version of the current generation Phenom II architecture. Clock for clock, I'd expect that to be slower than Sandy Bridge. But clock for clock isn't what matters, it's performance per dollar and performance per watt that are most important. AMD has already made it clear that it can compete in the former and it's too early to tell what Llano perf per watt will be. On the CPU side I feel it's probably easy to say that Intel will have the higher absolute performance, but AMD may be competitive at certain price points (similar to how it is today). Intel likes to maintain certain profit margins and AMD doesn't mind dropping below them to maintain competitive, it's why competition is good.

Llano's GPU performance is arguably the more interesting comparison. While Intel had to do a lot of work to get Sandy Bridge to where it is today, AMD has an easier time on the graphics side (given ATI's experience). The assumption is that Llano's GPU will be more powerful than what Intel has in Sandy Bridge. If that's the case, then we're really going to have an awesome set of entry level desktops/notebooks next year. 

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  • 7Enigma - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    On second thought the original article will give a baseline for the laptop chips (without turbo so hopefully slightly better performance). Not too shabby, but would have been even a greater difference if the original data was for the 6 unit part.
  • Donnie257 - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    No way I'm disappointed since I'll never use IGP unless in a Laptop anyway. I'm more interested in the Higher-End of the Mid-Range model, such as my current i930. There is no way for me to be disappointed when I'm not going to buy this for Games. Who in the #^!! buys IGP for Games? I'm more impressed with the performance gains on the already best processors on the planet LOL!. The only thing I see important for IGP is Desktop 2D/3D GUI Video Acceleration. With very little competition, Intel could be ripping off even more like the bad old days when Athlon64/X2 ruled the roost! Now even Apple-Mac can reast a little easier.

    Thanks Anand and keep up the good work!

    Site mods, PM me my old password? It's been a long time since I posted here as Donnie27, don't want anyone to think I'm hiding LOL!.

    Posted by "saaya,>wtg anand! hope you get an extra bonus from intel for this pr stunt... ""

    Same site and thread""
    spursindonesia--> ""gotta scrub & massage the hand that feed you, cause that's where company money comes all along, right ?""

    Posted MACMAC Post #22 ""Please...this is, Intel absolutely gave the thumbs up for this article."""

    G.Foyle--"Nice preview, but I'm tired of this Anand/Intel politic BS.""""

    god_43---->""lol ignore lists are more useful everyday! anand isn't always straight when it comes to Intel. ill wait till the cpu comes out...not that i would buy it...just curious. """

    400+ posts and at least a 3rd of them seems to be negative posts posted by AMD fans. These posts range from thinly veiled slants, spins to down right Attacks and FUD! Thank Goodness for folks like Hornet and Jumping Jack keeping it real:) In fact, they're the only reason I kept reading the thread with 19,000 others. If AMD and their fans don't like the results, they need to put their products where their spin or mouth is. Instead of posting faked photo-shopped Bulldozer Die Shots LOL!
  • katleo123 - Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - link

    good post about sandy bridge
    for more info visit

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