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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Hardware Articles |

The Intel Core third generation “Ivy Bridge”

is the codename of the new from Intel, which is a slight evolution of the former Sandy Bridge micro-architecture, focused on refining its features, incorporate new technologies, delivering a slightly higher yield per cycle, and while offering lower power consumption due to be Intel’s first manufactured with the manufacturing process to 22nm Tri-Gate (FinFET).

The Ivy Bridge family of microprocessors
plans to launch many different microprocessor based on Ivy Bridge, which will be aimed at different market segments:

  • Ivy Bridge-DT: Desktops socket LGA 1155.
  • Ivy Bridge-MB-held computers (laptops and notebooks).
  • Ivy Bridge-ULV: Ultra-thin Laptops (Ultrabooks).
  • Ivy Bridge-E: Desktops LGA 2011 for the enthusiast industry.
  • Ivy Bridge-IN: Servers monkey LGA 1536.
  • Ivy Bridge-EP: mono and dual socket servers LGA 2011.
  • Ivy Bridge-EX: single and dual socket servers LGA 2011.

Of these 7 variants Intel microprocessors initially presented their (desktop) and Ivy Bridge-MB (portable). The other 5 variants come in the course of this year (recently were presented to Ivy Bridge-IN socket LGA 1356), although possibly editions for socket LGA 2011 arrive next year.

What offers Ivy Bridge against Sandy Bridge?
As mentioned at the beginning. Ivy Bridge is based in Sandy Bridge, which made some improvements, the most important we can mention a new dynamic data structure, which is shared dynamically between the nucleus and physical-virtual (Hyper Threading), this differs from the structure static Sandy Bridge (records are divided in half for each virtual core), and with this change seeks to increase the performance per core, as in tasks that do not make use of both kernel threads, the active virtual cores will full access to all data records.

Other improvements include a new unit of division of integers and floating point performance that is twice that of Sandy Bridge, a random number generator (used in safety feature), the new protected mode execution SMEP (Supervisory Mode Execute), a new memory controller integrated DDR3-1600 (up to DDR3-2800 OC) memory support DDR3L with low voltage (1.35V), and some new features aimed at reducing the consumption of the chip.

Although substantial differences sound on paper, in practice these improvements are mixed with many other features that were unchanged compared to Sandy Bridge, but which together offer a yield per cycle between 4 and 10% according to Intel.

PCIe 3.0

Ivy Bridge has a PCI Express bus controller 3.0 (PCIe 3.0) integrated, which has a total of 16 PCIe lines, which can be used in up to 3 devices (8x +4 x +4 x / 8x +8 x / 16x) such as 3 video cards in multi-GPU modes 3-Way SLI or 3-Way CrossFireX, although Intel allows motherboard manufacturers make additional deployments using PCIe lines present in the chipset, in order to achieve support Mode 4 -Way SLI / CF.

Backward compatibility

Intel promises that its new microprocessors Ivy Bridge-DT (desktop) will be backwards compatible with LGA 1155 socket motherboards based on chipsets old now 6 Series “Cougar Point”. For this backwards compatibility is met, 2 conditions must be met, the motherboard manufacturer must implement:

  • A Management Engine firmware supports 8 (ME8).
  • A BIOS express support for microprocessors Ivy Bridge-DT.

The new Graphics HD 4000/2500

Perhaps the IGP Ivy Bridge is the unit that has suffered the largest and most substantial changes. The new IGP has a graphics core modular brand new (modular architecture of 2 nd generation), which Intel announced as compatible hardware with API Microsoft DirectX 11, but in reality is only partially compatible with hardware specifications of the API Microsoft DirectX 11, supports the specification for Microsoft Shader Model 4.1 (fully compatible GPUs support DirectX 11 Shader Model 5.0), this in turn allows the new IGP is compatible with the API OpenCL GPU-accelerated computing (versions 1.1 and 1.2) , bringing great benefits to performance when using any of the many existing applications that support OpenCL (currently over 100).

The Ivy Bridge IGP is based on a modular architecture are the basis of EUS computing units formed by four ALUs (shader processors) which in turn are organized into groups of three (GT1) and four (GT2) EUS forming a Row, in turn, two Rows form a Half Slice, which in turn form a Slice, which is formed by one or two Half Slice. Slice with a raster drive up the IGP Ivy Bridge.

The new graphics core has a dedicated 32KB L1 (IGP Sandy Bridge has just 4KB L1), the shader processors have been completely redesigned, but like Sandy Bridge there are 2 variants, one with 16 EUS (the name Intel to shader groups, each is comprised of 4 ALUs) called (HD Graphics 4000, PGI with 64 ALUs) and another with 6 EUS called (HD Graphics 2500, PGI with 24 ALUs). The graphics core is capable of running GT1 5 processing threads EU, while GT2 is capable of running 8 threads per EU). In addition to the shader processors, the IGP Ivy Bridge has a calculation unit 32-bit vector FMA.

Both versions offer considerably more graphics performance than its predecessors, thanks to the combination of its new graphics core and an outline of shaders much more robust, which in turn allows the execution of GPU accelerated applications, making the IGP in a calculation unit that assists the microprocessor to run OpenCL applications optimized for speeds up to 10 times higher than the CPU, depending on the type of application.

New Intel IGP support up to 3 simultaneous video outputs, which makes them a good choice for users requiring multi-monitor configurations. Finally we should mention that Intel will only provide drivers (drivers) for graphical operating systems Windows Vista and higher, so their IGPs can not be used on Windows 2003/XP and below.

Quick Sync 2.0

The new unit hardware video encoding Ivy Bridge has undergone some refinements to increase its yield, which on its own may not significantly improve performance, but thanks to their ability to access the compute shaders IGP is able to deliver performance that nearly doubles that of the original Quick Sync present in Sandy Bridge.

Although we should mention that these improvements depends on the strength of the IGP, so that models with the IGP not show many improvements such as those incorporating the IGP HD 4000 Graphics.

Next Gen Clear Video HD Technology
Improved version of the original introduced in Clear Video IGP Sandy Bridge supports hardware video playback for formats AVC, VC1 and MPEG2, offers a higher image quality and controls for contrast and skin tones.

Enhanced 3D InTru

Improved version of the original 3D InTru, its main novelty is to support the auto-stereoscopic 3D mode (without glasses).

The 7 Series chipsets “Panther Point”
Since the integration of the northbridge and the memory controller to the CPU, chipsets have lost much luster, from being one of the pillars of greatly influencing the performance of the team, something almost no real relevance. Current chipsets basically boil down to a mere southbridge with some interconnection lines with the CPU.

The new 7 Series chipsets are no exception to the rule and provide outside support USB 3.0 and bus lines connecting to the three video outputs of the Ivy Bridge, do not offer anything new that is not already present on chipsets 6 Series.

The 7 Series Intel chipsets for the domestic market are: Z77, Z75 and H77, of which the first two support functions to the microprocessor overclock. Finally we have a business line of chipsets: Q77, Q75 and B75, of which only the Q77 chipset supports the specification vPRO.

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