Intel’s Sandy Bridge

Updated on July 30, 2010 with Intel I3, I5, I7 CPU’s which will also be Sandy Bridge

Updated with AMD Fusion CPU code-named Ontario APU

When I first read the article on this CPU/Video card combination, I was skeptical. A video card and the CPU on the same chip?  When I think about the video card, there are two main hardware components.  The GPU and the dedicated video card RAM.

Unfortunately, there is still the bottleneck theory when it comes to communication.  If the CPU and the video card need to access the shared RAM at the same time, they are unable to access the data at maximum transfer rates since they have to share the data bus.  Furthermore, accessing the faster cache memory most likely has limits also on maximum transfer rates.  Therefore, the CPU and the GPU will have to wait when they need data from the RAM, harddrive and/or other devices.

The solution is an easy one.  Increase the size of the data bus to increase the speed that data can transfer to and from the RAM.  The data bus AKA hyper transport bus can be read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperTransport.  As one will see, transfer speeds are limited.  Furthermore, it would seem that we are reaching the point where we have reached the upper limit of transfer speeds.

Nevertheless, I am interested to see how it will work.  For most people who use their computers for basic stuff, Intel’s Sandy bridge and AMD’s Ontario APU will work.  For gamers, I am pretty sure the separate video card with dedicated RAM will be their choice.  Although, installing a separate video card and turning off the integrated video card can also work for gamers.

I have played some online MMORPG games using integrated graphics.  When there are a couple of people on the screen, the integrated graphics card works fine.  When there are few hundred people on the screen, that seems to be overkill and requires a dedicated graphics card with dedicated RAM to handle the workload.

Since screens run with higher resolutions with bigger screen sizes, smaller screens are better.  For example, In the article below called “AMD Fast on Fusion, but Hesitant with tablets”, It is said “that An integrated DirectX 11-capable processor should allow playback of full 1080p video on small screens.”  Therefore, a resolution of 640×480 AKA VGA should work fine with these processors, but a resolution of  1024×768 maybe too large for these processors to handle.  This is the reason why smartphones, iphones, and other mobile devices commonly use 320×240 resolutions.  The processor most likely cannot handle higher resolutions.  A look at display resolutions can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_resolution#Current_standards

The question most people are probably asking is will it take off?  I am pretty sure it will.

Basically, I see both Intel’s Sandy Bridge and AMD’s Ontario APU as an integrated video card being moved from the Northbridge on the motherboard to the CPU chip.

Intel is a well respected company.  They are always looking for ways to make faster and/or better CPU and/or GPU’s.  AMD, on the other hand, is the underdog competitor that seems to always be in 2nd place in market penetration

I still like the idea of buying a separate video card.  Although, it seems that the majority always wins.  Therefore, if the majority buys only Intel’s Sandy bridge CPU’s and/or AMD’s Ontario APU’s, I will buy those too since video card manufacturers may disappear with sales of separate video cards dwindling.

In any case, one can always plug-in a separate video card, and turn off the integrated video card.  Most motherboards have this option in the BIOS, so it is not a big deal.

For now, it seems that Intel’s Sandy bridge and AMD’s Ontario APU will be used mainly on tablets, notbooks and netbooks.  Basically, a replacement for Intel’s Atom CPU’s.  One day, these may compete with ARM for a piece of the mobile/smart phones market.  A market that is currently dominated by ARM processors.

Intel’s Sandy bridge can be seen at http://www.zdnet.com/blog/computers/ces-2011-a-closer-look-at-intels-sandy-bridge-chips/4630

Intel’s Sandy bridge CPU using the I3, I5, I7 naming system can be seen at http://www.tomshardware.com/news/sandy-bridge-nehalem-core-huron-river,10863.html

AMD Ontario APU can be seen at http://www.pcworld.com/article/201253/amd_fast_on_fusion_but_hesitant_with_tablets.html

The difference between the I5 and the I7 can be read at http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5,2410.html.

Aug 30, 2011

With the introduction of the AMD Llano CPU AKA AMD A Series CPU, Intel’s Sandy Bridge can be benchmarked with AMD’s A Series CPU.  There are fundamental differences between the two as can be seen from the article at http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/llano_vs_sandy_bridge_which_500_pc_right_you.  Therefore, one will have to decide what is more important.  Raw data processing power or video game graphics rendering.

In my case, raw processing power is what I am looking for.

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