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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sandy Bridge Processor Overview

Sandy Bridge Processor Overview


Processors
So far, there are only a few regular desktop CPUs, which are easy to memorize.

Core i3 is almost entirely out of the picture for most folks. It doesn’t support AES-NI, the encryption acceleration feature, and Core i3 does not support Turbo Boost. It can't be over-clocked, and its on-die graphics are the anemic HD Graphics 2000 implementation. The Core i3-2100 runs at 2.93 GHz, and i3-2120 is a 3.3 GHz part. Both are dual-core models with Hyper-Threading, are rated at 65 W, and armed with just 3 MB of shared L3 cache. Core i5 is a much more compelling lineup.

All Core i5 CPUs have four physical cores (except for the Core i5-2390T), 6 MB L3 cache, AES-NI, and Turbo Boost, making them the best choice for most users.

Core i5-2300: 2.8 GHz (3.1 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
Core i5-2400: 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
Core i5-2500: 3.3 GHz (3.7 GHz Turbo Boost), 95 W
Core i5-2500K: same as -2500, but multiplier unlocked for over-clocking

Core i7 is very similar to Core i5, but has 8 MB L3 cache and eight threads/four cores.

There is just the Core i7-2600 at 3.4 GHz (3.8 GHz Turbo Boost) with a 95 W TDP. The K-series version is the unlocked one for multiplier-based over-clocking.

Chipsets:
Intel has five 6-series desktop chipsets, B65, Q65, Q67, H67, and P67. B65 is a feature-limited small business platform, Q65 adds management, Q67 is the fully-featured business version, H67 supports Intel’s integrated HD Graphics core or one x16 PCIe graphics card, and you’ll want P67 for twin x8 PCIe-based dual-card graphics setups. H67 and P67 no longer support 32-bit PCI, though.

H67-based solutions like Intel’s DH67BL are sufficient for mainstream users, but inadequate for gamers due to the single x16 PCI Express slot for graphics.


Recommendations:
Gamers are naturally going to be looking at P67 for its ability to support two graphic cards, along with processor over-clocking (which isn't supported on H67). If you don’t care much about gaming, modeling, or anything else that is 3D-heavy, then you should stay with H67.

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