Processor Intel Core-2 generation, which is widely known by the codename ‘Sandy Bridge’, a new architecture, performance is phenomenal, and overclockability are incredible (to reach 5.4Ghz with
HSF cooler.) Therefore, there are some people who feel that upgrading the old system to Sandy Bridge will deliver significant performance improvements.
What’s New in Intel’s Sandy Bridge
Intel has beaten AMD to be the first CPU company to integrate a GPU into the silicon die of an x86 processor it managed to integrate a GPU into the processor packaging for its Clarksfield based Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. We expect AMD’s Fusion combined CPU-GPU chips early this year, with desktop parts available in mid-2011.
The Intel GPU in question is a significant update from previous Intel HD graphics, with enhanced gaming, video playback and GPGPU capabilities. It’s available in two flavors: the Intel HD 2000 and the Intel HD 3000, which we discuss briefly on the Intel Processor Graphics page, and will investigate more fully soon.
The interesting aspect regarding the graphics unit is that it shares the ‘last-level’ cache (LLC) of the entire die with the CPU execution cores. Intel’s Shared Cache technology has worked incredibly well for it over the years.
There’s a big pool of Level 2 or 3 caches, and any CPU can reserve any amount it requires, therefore making that cache work as efficiently as possible. Allowing the GPU to tap into this shared resource is a logical step, but it required a radical rethink of how processing units access and address it. In the end, Intel has implemented a ring bus, and not even an Intel Ring Bus Technology, which is an odd move for a company that loves to brand anything and everything that it creates.
A ring bus controller polls each unit in a looping sequence, accepting or offloading data as it progresses – if the GPU requires data from the main memory (via the processor cache), it will have to wait until the CPU cores have been served first, before sending that request to the System Agent unit, which can pass it onto the integrated memory controller. The layout of a P67 motherboard: you’ll need one of these to overclock a Sandy Bridge CPU.
The inclusion of a GPU that’s so tightly tied into the rest of the CPU, and the ring bus controller that allows this may lead to advantages as far as GPU performance and efficiency is concerned, but it has led to one very controversial consequence: all the buses of an LGA1155 motherboard are controlled via one clock generator. This may not sound significant, but it means that overclocking via the Base Clock is extremely limited, if not impossible, as even sensitive buses such as SATA are linked to the ring bus clock.
But before you buy this processor, here are things you should know about the Sandy bridge unique characteristics:
1. Redesigning and Reprogramming
Intel claims that Sandy Bridge CPUs achieve these goals through a combination of revamped micro-operation processing, changes to the memory cluster, and new methods of branch prediction, all of which do less overlapping of work whenever possible.
In Sandy Bridge processors, the memory, PCI Express (PCIe), and video controllers are all contained within the same die for the first time.
These systems communicate with each other and all processing cores, at enhanced speeds and efficiency, by way of a ring-based interconnect.
The interconnect contains four fully pipelined rings, and scale as the number of cores and cache size increase. This means that all kinds of systems based on the technology from budget laptops to high-end
servers can benefit.
4. Rethought Uncore
A new System Agent is completely integrated with the ring, and provides power and thermal management services for the PCIe and DDR controllers. It also allows the video and media processing systems to operate at higher bandwidths and with lower latency.
5. Newer and Better Graphics
Video support on Sandy Bridge processors is limited to DirectX 10.1, at least right now, but Sandy Bridge sports completely redesigned video and media subsystems that Intel claims greatly increase performance in everyday computing as well as more specialized tasks like video editing and transcoding. There’s built-in support for a wide variety of popular video codecs, as well as accelerators for commonly used filters like scaling and removing noise.
6. Boosted Turbo Boost
Intel’s technology for increasing the performance of certain cores by turning off others that aren’t being used, Turbo Boost, now takes better advantage of the thermal realities of processor design. In Sandy Bridge, cores boost above the target speed for 25 seconds or so at a time, and then step down gradually until they reach their safe limits.
7. Upgrades Required
Sandy Bridge CPUs are not compatible with the LGA1156 sockets used by last generation’s Westmere and Clarkdale chips. They require new motherboards with Intel’s new LGA1155 socket.
8. The Heat is Down
The changes made to Sandy Bridge processors in terms of reducing heat output mean that desktop systems require a smaller fan and heat sink.
At the 2010 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel showed off one stock Sandy Bridge fan–heat sink combo that was between two-thirds and half the size of those used to cool Westmere and Clarkdale Core
i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs.
9. CPU is NOT compatible with LGA1156 LGA1155
This sounds simple enough, but it is. If you currently want to use Sandy Bridge processors that use socket LGA1155, inevitably you have to buy a motherboard that uses socket LGA1155. There is no backward-compatibility between the CPU LGA1156 and LGA1155. The only thing the same of the LGA1155 and 1156 are the holes for mounting HSF, so you still can use the HSF on the processor Sandy Bridge LGA1156
10. Processor K-Series vs. Non-K-Series, what’s the difference?
If you listen to the various models of Sandy Bridge processors that will be released in our previous article, you will realize that there are some processors that have the same model number, but have the suffix ‘K’. Processors that have the suffix ‘K’ as i5 and i7-2500K-2600K is a processor called the K-Series processor, while the processor without the suffix ‘K’ as I5 and I5-2300-2500 processor is called non-K-Series.
All you need to know is there is no difference between the variants clockspeed K-series and non-K series. The only difference between the K-series with non-K is all K-series processor has an unlocked multiplier that allows overclocking the CPU via the multiplier.
The following figure will explain the difference between processors and i5 2500K-2500:
As shown in the picture, and i5 i5-2500K-2500 has the same clockspeed, even the same turbo frequency. What is different is the i5-2500K has a ratio (multiplier) up to 57x or more, while the i5-2500 ‘only’ has an
extra multiplier up to 41x.
11. Very limited bus speed overclocking on Sandy Bridge
For the overclockers, or power-users who usually overclock your processor, you surely know that the bus speed play an important role in overclocking. This is certainly consistent with the guidelines of the fundamental formula of overclocking, CPU Clock = CPU Bus Speed x Multiplier. In the previous generation Intel processors (Lynnfield, Bloomfield, Gulftown, and also Clarkdale) value bus speed, or so-called Bclk (base clock) has a range from the default 133MHz, up to 220Mhz or 250Mhz even with the help of extreme cooling. With the changing Bclk range of more than 50% of this, the multiplier locked processors can overclock pretty high though. At the Sandy Bridge processor currently available, say goodbye to Bclk overclocking method, because the conversion range Bclk on Sandy Bridge very limited.
Bclk on Sandy Bridge is in the 100MHz, but this value can only be increased about 4-5%. Average Sandy Bridge processor we tested had limitations Bclk at 104-105Mhz, and with extreme cooling, we could only get the value of 110Mhz. This means that overclocking Sandy Bridge will be VERY dependent on variables other than Bclk, the multiplier. And considering the Sandy Bridge processor that has a multiplier is unlocked only Sandy Bridge ‘K’ Series, you want to get a big enough margins to overclocking would not want to buy the
processors ‘K’ Series. Non-K Series is still allows overclocking, but only about 400Mhz of turbo its highest frequency.
This will affect the user who used to buy cheap processor and overclock as high. Sandy Bridge is no longer familiar with the term “Buy the cheapest processor, Overclock as high”, as happened during overclock the Core i7 920 to a level above the Core i7 975 Extreme.
This means that Intel’s success to limit the overclock of the CPU value class so as not to ‘interfere’ processor market for their class.
Until the time of this writing, Intel does not give a statement whether this BLCK limitation occurs because the new architecture, or indeed ‘deliberately’ made. Painful indeed, but that’s one harsh reality that we must accept in Sandy Bridge.
12. There is significant difference between H67 and P67 motherboards
In previous generations, motherboard chipsets, H55 does not have much difference with the P55. There are only two differences in the ability of H55 chipset motherboard with onboard GPU that can utilize contained
in Clarkdale processor (e.g. Core i5 i3 5xx/Core 6xx). But in the era of Sandy Bridge, chipset H67 has a significant difference compared to P67, see the table below:
Seen from the table above, the motherboard with a chipset H67 has many limitations. It seems that Intel chipsets do not allow users to overclock CPU H67 (either through the multiplier and bus speed pass-Bclk), and also limits on boundaries Speed 1333Mhz DRAM. The only thing that can overclock the system H67 is IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) which is embedded in the Sandy Bridge processor.
So for those of you who want to buy the Sandy Bridge processor K-Series and have DDR3 that can run at a frequency of 1866Mhz and above, should you choose a P67 chipset, because even if you buy the K-series CPUs, you can not change the multiplier on the motherboard H67 (at least for now this). But keep in mind, the Intel P67 chipset does not plan to have video output, so to be able to use the IGP Sandy Bridge, you should use a chipset H67.
13. DRAM Speed limited settings
As you read on the previous point, the user can only select chipset H67 RAM frequency to 1333Mhz. fortunately the P67 chipset, Intel graciously volunteered to give choices speed: 1333Mhz, 1600MHz, 1866Mhz, and 2133Mhz. This means, users can run the P67 chipset, DDR3 RAM up to 2133Mhz it even if using the default Bclk at 100MHz. Which will have a problem is user DDR3 with a clock other than those stated
above, for example users DDR3-1800, DDR3-2200, DDR3-2400, and so forth. Speed of RAM usage than 1333Mhz, 1600MHz, 1866Mhz, and 2133Mhz Bclk certainly require modification. Well, considering the frequency of the RAM on your system depends on Bclk Sandy Bridge with the following formula:
DRAM Speed = Multiplier Bclk * DRAM, DRAM Speed automatic range setting on the Sandy Bridge also be limited in accordance with its Bclk (which range in Sandy Bridge Bclk alteration is very limited).
To use DDR3-2400, a user must use the 2133Mhz DRAM settings, and using Bclk amounted to 112.5 Mhz. Given the average Bclk limitation on Sandy Bridge was 104-105Mhz, DDR3-2400 speed becomes almost impossible to achieve. This also led to the setting XMP (Xtreme Memory Profile) on Sandy Bridge be changed completely. Now all that has XMP RAM will run at clock closest (or rounded down) to the value of the specified RAM Speed Intel (1333, 1600, 1866, and 2133Mhz). So for example you have RAM that has a profile XMP DDR3-2200Mhz, on Sandy Bridge platform, your RAM will run at DDR3-2133Mhz speed. Another example, if there is a RAM with XMP DDR3-1800MHz, then the RAM will run at DDR3-1600, and so forth.
Note: When this article was released, there were rumors circulating that there are some motherboards that allow setting DDR3-2400Mhz without increasing Bclk. We will continue to investigate this time to review the various motherboards P67.
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