Intel’s mobile Sandy Bridge details revealed

Alongside roadmap

THOSE OF YOU that have been waiting for more details on Intel’s mobile Sandy Bridge processor are in luck, as thanks to Anandtech we now have quite a few additional details of what will be on offer. One of the main missing pieces of the puzzle was the clock speeds of the integrated graphics, but it turns out that there’s another surprise on store for us that had yet to be revealed.

All of the mobile Sandy Bridge processors at launch will have the IGP clocked at 650MHz, the same as the T suffix desktop parts. However, Intel allows for the Core i5’s to Turbo to 1150MHz while the Core i7’s will Turbo all the way to 1300MHz, both faster than the T suffix desktop parts which won’t Turbo faster than to 1100MHz (with the exception of the Core i5 2500T which goes to 1250MHz). In fact, with the exception of the Core i7 2600, the mobile Core i7’s have the fastest IGP’s across the board.

All of the launch models will also feature 12 execution units, but interestingly Anand is now saying that the desktop part he tested might’ve had 12 EUs and not six, but he has so far been unable to confirm this. Furthermore he’s also stating that the K models are likely to feature 12 EUs, but yet again, this is not confirmed information. Even so, it seems like Intel is trying to kill off entry-level discrete graphics solutions. One thing that Intel is missing – or at least that have yet to be announced – that would make entry-level discrete graphics a thing of the past, is OpenCL support. We’ll have to wait and see on this one, but we doubt that Intel will implement this, as after all, Intel is first and foremost a CPU company.

The other interesting thing here is that Intel has implemented support for faster DDR3 memory for its mobile versions of Sandy Bridge. As far as what is known about the desktop parts, we’re still stuck with DDR3 1333MHz memory – unless you get a P67 motherboard – so not any real change here over the current crop of desktop processors. However, the mobile Core i5 processors based on Sandy Bridge will get support for 1333MHz DDR3 memory, a step up from the current 1066MHz DDR3 memory support. Where it gets really interesting is the new Core i7’s which will support 1600MHz DDR3 memory. We’re sure the memory manufacturers are happy about this move, as it means they can bring out more expensive memory products for notebooks.

As an interesting side note which we didn’t think of during the first leak of the mobile model names is that Intel appears to have retained exactly the same model names for its Sandy Bridge mobile processors as the launch model Arrandale processors and simply just added a two in front. This also suggests that we should be seeing a similar CPU refresh as we have with the Arrandale models. Speaking of refresh, Anand also provided something of a roadmap and judging by it we should see some faster Arrandale models in the next quarter when it comes to the mobile Core i7 and Core i5 dual core models, for both the M, ML and UM market segments.

One thing that’s missing entirely from the roadmap is the low Voltage and ultra-low Voltage Sandy Bridge processors, as well as any Core i3, Pentium and Celeron models. The roadmap suggests that Intel will keep the low Voltage and ultra-low Voltage Arrandale processors until Q2 of next year, whereas the standard models will appear in Q1 as expected. Again this follows a similar pattern with Arrandale and Anand is suggesting that we won’t be seeing entry level Sandy Bridge processors until “late next year” which means that the other SKUs will most likely remain as is.

On comment from Anand that we’re wondering about where he states “I don’t believe Apple will abandon NVIDIA as a result of Sandy Bridge’s vastly improved graphics given SB’s lack of OpenCL support.” As much as Apple might not want to give up discrete graphics, we’re fairly certain that they will abandon Nvidia and move to AMD, as Apple has already abandoned Nvidia on all of its desktop platforms with the exception of the Mac mini. However, this isn’t really related to Sandy Bridge as such, although Apple really does seem to loathe Intel’s integrated graphics so it’s likely that we’ll see some form of switchable discrete graphics in Apple’s next range of MacBook’s in 2011.S|A

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