Today, Intel releases their highly anticipated 3rd Generation Intel Core Processors Family. It’s based on Intel’s all new 22nm manufacturing process and makes use of two-chip platform technology. This technology consists of two chips; a processor and a PCH. In this case, PCH is Intel 6 and 7 series chipsets. The new Ivy Bridge processors are fully compatible with 6 series and 7 series chipsets and can be used with any LGA1155 motherboard (Intel 6 series chipset based motherboard might need a BIOS update). Intel Ivy Bridge brings a couple of new things to the market. To begin with, it’s based on 22nm manufacturing process and it makes use of 3D transistors. The new 3rd Generation Intel Core Processors also bring the native PCI Express 3.0 support.
General public had pretty high expectations from Ivy Bridge after seeing the performance jump Intel brought with Sandy Bridge but there is something to understand. From a couple of generation Intel is working around their Tick Tock strategy. Tick usually introduces a new and smaller manufacturing node on the previous architecture and Tock part refines that manufacturing node and introduces a new architecture. Sandy Bridge was a Tock, that’s the major reason we had such a considerable performance boost because Intel introduced the new architecture. Now, the Ivy Bridge is a Tick. Intel is introducing 22nm manufacturing node along with all new 3D transistors. It’s expected to give around 10-15% more performance but with considerably less power consumption because it’ll be bringing out the last ounce of performance that was possible with this architecture. The real performance boost that everyone was expecting will hopefully come with the Tock node when Intel will announce an all new architecture codenamed ‘Haswell’. Ivy Bridge processors are Intel’s first mainstream processors to cross 1 billion transistor count; it has around 1.4 billion transistors with die size of 160mm.
The real improvement that Ivy Bridge brings is in the graphics segment. Intel introduces HD Graphics 4000 series with the new Ivy Bridge processors. The new integrated graphics are expected to bring considerable improvements over the HD Graphics 3000 which was introduced with Sandy Bridge. New graphics processor also brings the DirectX 11 support, better performance and lower power consumption. All of this doesn’t mean much for the desktop users but notebooks especially ultrabooks will have the most advantage. Intel aims to put ultrabooks in the mainstream market with Ivy Bridge. Intel refers to Ivy Bridge as Tick+ in some presentations. Tick+ is actually a combination of Tock for CPU and Tick for integrated graphics because the new HD Graphics 4000 brings around 20-50% performance boost over the last generation.
Other changes we get with Ivy Bridge include support for 1600 MHz dual channel DDR3 memory which was limited to 1333 MHz since last couple of generations and maximum supported memory is now 2667 MHz which kind of points out that Ivy Bridge has a strong IMC. Along with that, it also has base clock multiplier up to 63; Sandy Bridge has up to 59. This means Ivy Bridge can be overclock to 6.3 GHz with base clock at 100 MHz.
Ivy Bridge die is identical to that of Sandy Bridge in terms of appearance as both share the same architecture. Starting from the left side, we have graphics processor which covers almost one third area of the die. Then comes the four cores with L3 cache. This cache is shared by all four cores and graphics processor for better performance and power efficiency. Memory controller is also present on the processor die. Right edge is covered by DMI, display and other I/O.