Intel Reveals 'Sandy Bridge' Chips

By Tracey E. Schelmetic January 03, 2011

In advance of the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, Intel has released its next line of chips. Called “Sandy Bridge,” the chips combine a graphics processor and one or more CPU microprocessor(s) on one silicon die, according to the Inquirer. At the CES show, Intel partners are expected to debut products built with the new chips, which have been dubbed “the second generation Intel Core processor family” by Chipzilla.

The chips, according to the Inquirer, will offer the most advantage for the next generation of laptop computers with better graphics than previous models. Competition to the Sandy Bridge line is expected to come primarily from AMD, which plans to release its new Fusion chips at the CES show. Fusion is also a combined graphics and CPU chip technology.

According to Intel, Sandy Bridge chips can quickly convert video from one format to another. While they are still not as fast as stand-alone graphics chips, they are better than nothing, notes the Inquirer. Sandy Bridge can handle DirectX 10.1 graphics, but it can't manage the most advanced graphics standard, DirectX 11.

According to PC magazine, what's notable with the Sandy Bridge chips is that “the graphics component has been moved onto the same die as the CPU. By placing them that much closer to each other, not only do graphics and CPU performance hit unprecedented highs, but their margins of increase are very compelling. And battery efficiency remains dominant to other solutions out there, despite the major increase in horsepower.” PC magazine recently tested the new chips to see if they lived up to the marketing. The magazine was given a 17-inch “whitebook” (an unbranded laptop) by Intel for the purpose of reviewing the chip. Sandy Bridge passed with flying colors, stunning many of the publication's reviewers.

Said PC magazine, “Just to give you an idea of how powerful Sandy Bridge is, no laptop, even the most powerful one, has ever scored over 10,000 points in PCMark Vantage -- a benchmark test that stresses all the major components of a laptop (CPU, memory, graphics, etc). Our Sandy Bridge test unit scored 16,680 points, which is roughly 2.5 times better than the Dell XPS 17 (6,367) and Samsung RF710-S02US (6,000). Its score is so one-sided that several of us had to do a double-take, which is saying a lot.”

We're looking forward to seeing the new Sandy Bridge-powered laptops debuting at the CES show, and we'll write more about them as information becomes available.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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