Intel’s Sandy Bridge i7-2820QM: Upheaval in the Mobile Landscapeby Jarred Walton on January 3, 2011 12:00 AM EST
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Intel’s Sandy Bridge: Upheaval in the Mobile Landscape
You’re probably sick of me talking about Sandy Bridge in our notebook reviews, particularly since up to now I’ve been unable to provide any numbers for actual performance. Today, Intel takes the wraps off of Mobile Sandy Bridge and I can finally talk specifics. Notebooks have always been substantially slower than desktops, and prices for a set level of performance have been higher; that’s not going to change with the SNB launch, but the gap just got a lot narrower for a lot of users. The key ingredients consist of higher core clocks with substantially higher Turbo modes, an integrated graphics chip that more than doubles the previous generation (also with aggressive Turbo modes), and some additional architectural sauce to liven things up.
If you haven’t already done so, you’ll probably want to begin by reading Anand’s Sandy Bridge Architectural Overview, as well as our Desktop Sandy Bridge coverage. I’m not going to retread ground that he’s already covered, so the focus for this article is going to be solidly on the mobility aspects of Sandy Bridge. With notebooks now outselling desktops by almost two to one, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a greater emphasis is being placed on the new mobile offerings. For starters, most of the mobile SNB chips are getting the full 12EU graphics core, rather than a trimmed down 6EU variant. Toss in all of the improved power management features and what we end up with is a fast-when-needed, power-friendly, and efficient chip. We’ll get to the benchmarks in a moment, but let’s start with a recap of the mobile Sandy Bridge lineup.
|Intel Mobile Sandy Bridge (Retail)|
|Max SC Turbo||3.5GHz||3.4GHz||3.3GHz||3.4GHz||3.3GHz||3.2GHz|
|Max DC Turbo||3.4GHz||3.3GHz||3.2GHz||3.2GHz||3.1GHz||3.0GHz|
|Max QC Turbo||3.2GHz||3.1GHz||3.0GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Base GFX Freq.||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz|
|Max GFX Freq.||1300MHz||1300MHz||1300MHz||1300MHz||1300MHz||1300MHz|
Up first, we have the retail SKUs for the quad-core and dual-core parts. Worth noting is that availability of the quad-core processors should start this week, but the dual-core and LV/ULV parts won’t show up for a few more weeks. The quad-core parts will also use a different BGA package than the dual-core parts. The above will be the most readily available Sandy Bridge parts, as well as the fastest offerings, but there are additional OEM and LV/ULV products as well.
|Intel Mobile Sandy Bridge (OEM)|
|Max SC Turbo||2.9GHz||2.9GHz||2.9GHz||N/A|
|Max DC Turbo||2.8GHz||2.8GHz||2.6GHz||N/A|
|Max QC Turbo||2.6GHz||2.6GHz||N/A||N/A|
|Base GFX Freq.||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz||650MHz|
|Max GFX Freq.||1200MHz||1100MHz||1200MHz||1100MHz|
We might get some of the above in OEM systems sent for review, and if so it will be interesting to see how much of an impact the trimmed clock speeds have on overall performance. The only mobile chip without support for Turbo Boost is the i3-2310M, so it will be interesting to see how that compares with current-generation i3 processors. Sandy Bridge should still be faster clock-for-clock than Arrandale/Clarksfield, and pricing on OEM parts might get these down into some very affordable notebooks and laptops. We’ll have to wait and see.
|Intel Mobile Sandy Bridge (LV/ULV)|
|Max SC Turbo||3.2GHz||3.0GHz||2.7GHz||2.6GHz||2.3GHz|
|Max DC Turbo||2.9GHz||2.7GHz||2.4GHz||2.3GHz||2.0GHz|
|Base GFX Freq.||500MHz||500MHz||350MHz||350MHz||350MHz|
|Max GFX Freq.||1100MHz||1100MHz||1000MHz||950MHz||900MHz|
What’s interesting to note about the ULV parts is that even the slowest i5-2537M (yeah, those code names are going to be easy to remember!) comes clocked higher than the outgoing i7-640UM, with more aggressive Turbo modes and a 1W lower TDP. Perhaps we’ll see an M11x R3 with 400M (or 500M?) graphics and one of these ULV chips?
But enough about other products; let’s take a look at the preview system we received and see how this thing stacks up to the current generation notebooks. As this isn’t final hardware, we won’t be focusing all that much on the laptop design and features but will instead concentrate on performance. So, come meet our mobile Sandy Bridge test notebook.
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JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkTrue, it's been around a while, but I found it interesting that while performance dropped, it wasn't the "slideshow effect". If the system sat idle, the CPU would start to cool down, so when I fired up a benchmark it would run fast for a little bit. It was very perplexing until I figured out what was happening. First run on MediaEspresso gave me 11s with Quick Sync. Then I ran it again and it was 17s. The next time it was suddenly down to 33s.
QChronoD - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkI'm hoping that someone will annouce something like ASUS's new U36JC that has an i5-2410 at CES. I'd love to be able to go a full day at school without needing to recharge in almost every class (and actaully be able to play minecraft between classes)
PlasmaBomb - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link
That should read the GTX465 comes next...
PlasmaBomb - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkTo correct the correction (I was going by the graphs), the graphs for the G73J should read GTX460M (I noticed the reference to the GTX460M in the text later and checked the G73J article).
God help us all when it comes to talking/writing about the Sandy Bridge chips themselves, "the i7-2539"...
JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkFixed, thanks. I had some good ones in those graphs... G73Jw with 260M and 456M, but no 460M! LOL
iwodo - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linknow all that is left are Gfx drivers, i hope intel put 10x more resources at their current Gfx Drivers team.
Other then that, i am waiting for Ivy Bridge........
ET - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkI imagine that a single resolution is the best way to compare different machines, but it would have been nice to see some gaming benchmarks at the native res. 1600x900 is not a whole lot higher than 1366x768 (37% more pixels), so I imagine it's possible to game with low details at that resolution. Many Anandtech articles add such figures into the benchmark tables, and I was really missing them here.
JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - linkI ran out of time, but I did test 1600x900 at our "High" defaults. Umm... not really what you'd want, as everything is completely unplayable. Perhaps post-CES I'll get a chance to do additional testing, but my feeling is most actual notebooks using SNB will likely ship with a 768p display. Some might do 1080p as well, but they'll be more likely to include Optimus GPUs for gaming.
therealnickdanger - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - linkGood idea testing at 1366x768. Not only does it fall in line with most notebook screen resolutions, but it also give good indication of 720p performance. Given that many, many gamers play PS3 and 360 (most games being 720p@30fps), it's very good to see that most games are completely playable from low-medium settings. Some games could probably even get away with higher settings and still stay around 30fps.
It's awesome that Intel is putting the "HD 3000" GPU in all its mobile chips, but I'm very curious how the different clock speeds of the GPU and CPUs will affect performance.
ULV Sandy Bridge numbers soon?
therealnickdanger - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - linkOh yeah, I forgot to add:
What's with Dark Athena? Is it really that stressful to run or is there a driver issue?