Intelís Ivy Bridge Architecture Exposed

Its been five year since intel announced its hectic processor lunch schedule. Like other companies out there intel is not keeping its works secret; rather they have shone in the tick-tock of years. And they have exposed yet another weapon in their arsenal, the first chip to use Intel's 22nm tri-gate transistors, so called Ivy Bridge (IVB).
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Motherboard &Chipset

IVB is to support the current LGA-1155 socket thus compatible with the h67, z68, p67 chipset. Although intel will release three new motherboard chipsets z77, z75 & h77.These chipsets will support usb 3.0; pcie 3.0 natively. The differences between the new chipsets are shown below,

Chipset/functionality Z77 Z75 H77
overclocking Yes Yes No
PCIe(3.0) config 1x16;2x8;1x8,2x4 1x16;2x8 1x16
Integrated Graphics support Yes Yes Yes
SSD caching Yes No Yes

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The Improvments

Ivy Bridge is considered a small improvement from the CPU perspective but a huge jump from the GPU perspective. On the CPU core side you can expect clock-for-clock performance improvements in the 4 - 6% range.But in the gpu side the integrated gpu will have more fire power & DirectX 11 support. Despite the limited improvement in core-level performance there's a lot of cleanup that went into the design. In order to maintain a strict design schedule it's not uncommon for a number of features not to make it into a design, only to be added later in the subsequent product.

Cache & Memory controller

There haven't been any changes to Ivy Bridge's cache. The last level cache (L3) is still shared via a ring bus between all cores, the GPU and the system agent. Quad-core Ivy Bridge CPUs will support up to 8MB of L3 cache, and the private L1/L2s haven't increased from their sizes in Sandy Bridge (32+32K/256K).

The memory controller also remains relatively unchanged, aside from some additional flexibility. Mobile IVB supports DDR3L in addition to DDR3, enabling 1.35V memory instead of the standard 1.5V DDR3. This is particularly useful in notebooks that have on-board DDR3 on the underside of the notebook; OEMs can use DDR3L and keep your lap a bit cooler.

Power Efficiency

When Intel introduced its 22nm tri-gate transistors Intel claimed that it could see an 18%increase in performance at 1V compared to its 32nm process. At the same switching speed however, Intel's 22nm transistors can run at 75 - 80% of the voltage of their 32nm counterparts. Ivy Bridge's process alone should account for some pretty significant power savings. In addition to process however, there are a few architectural changes in IVB that will reduce power consumption.
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Configurable TDP

All CPUs ship with a rated thermal design point (TDP) that tells OEMs what sort of cooling the chip requires. Traditionally that TDP value remained static and the CPU could do whatever it wanted but exceed that value. Ivy Bridge introduces configurable TDP that allows the platform to increase the CPU's TDP if given additional cooling, or decrease the TDP to fit into a smaller form factor.

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With Ivy Bridge the GPU remains on die but it grows more than the CPU does this generation.Intel isn't disclosing the die split but there are more execution units this round (16 up from 12 in SNB) so it would appear as if the GPU occupies a greater percentage of the die than it did last generation. It's not near a50/50 split yet, but it's continued indication that Intel is taking GPU performance seriously.
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Ivy Bridge will bring about higher clock speeds thanks to its 22nm process, however the gains will likely be minimal at best. Intel hasn't been too keen on pursuing clock speed for quite some time now. Clock for clock performance will go up by a small amount over Sandy Bridge (4 - 6%), combine that with slightly higher clock speeds and we may see CPU performance gains of around 10% at the sam eprice point with Ivy Bridge. The bigger news will be around power consumption and graphics performance.

Ivy Bridge will be Intel's flagship 22nm CPU for some time. The chip was originally due out at the end of this year but was likely subject to delays due to issues with the fab process and the chip itself. The move to 22nm is significant leap. Not only are these new transistors aggressively small but the introduction of Intel's tri-gate technology is a major departure from previous designs.

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Finally The Start

If Intel can hit its clock and performance targets, Ivy Bridge could deliver GPU performance on-par with AMD's Llano. By the time Ivy Bridge arrives however, AMD will have already taken another step forward with Trinity.The question is who will address their performance issues quicker? Will AMD improve x86 performance faster than Intel can improve GPU performance?

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