New Intel processors from the Ivy Bridge family have been in the market for a few months already, but it seems that they are not extremely popular. We have already pointed out multiple times that they do not look like a significant step forward compared with their predecessors: their computational performance has increased insignificantly, and the frequency potential revealed through overclocking has become even lower than that of the previous Sandy Bridge generation. Intel is also aware that there is no real buying craze about the Ivy Bridge processors: the life span of the previous generation processors manufactured with older 32 nm process has been extended on and on, and the forecasts on the growing popularity of the newcomers are not particularly optimistic at this point. To be more exact, Intel intends to increase the share of Ivy Bridge processors only to 30% of their desktop offerings, while the remaining 60% of all shipped processors will remain Sandy Bridge based products. Does this situation actually allow us to consider new Intel processors yet another success?
Not at all. The thing is that everything I said above refers only to the desktop processors. The mobile market segment responded totally differently to the Ivy Bridge launch, because most of the innovations were designed with notebooks in mind. The two major advantages Ivy Bridge has over Sandy Bridge are, namely, significantly lower heat dissipation and power consumption and accelerated graphics core with DirectX 11 support, are in very high demand for the mobile systems. These features not only stimulated the development of notebook models with much better combination of consumer qualities, but also encourages rapid expansion of a new class of ultra-portable devices aka ultrabooks. And on top of that, the new 22 nm process and Tri-Gate transistors helped lower the size and production cost of the semiconductor dies, which is yet another argument in favor of the new design’s success.
As a result, only desktop users can actually remain somewhat uninspired by the new Ivy Bridge, and not because of some serious issues, but mostly for the lack of radical improvements, which, however, have never been promised in the first place. Do not forget, that Intel’s classification places Ivy Bridge processors into the “tick” stage, which is simply the transition of old microarchitecture onto new semiconductor base. Either way, Intel knows that desktop users are less excited about the new generation processors than notebook users, therefore, they are not in a hurry to completely refresh the lineup just yet. Until recently new microarchitecture in the desktop segment has only found its way into top quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs. Core i3 and Pentium processors on Ivy Bridge microarchitecture have just appeared in Intel’s product lineup. Moreover, Ivy Bridge based processors co-exist side by side with their Sandy Bridge based fellows and do not push them off the stage in any way. The new microarchitecture should become more aggressive in late fall, and until then it is up to the users to decide which processors they would rather go with: second generation (2000-series), or third generation (3000-series).
This is actually the reason why we decided to undertake this test session. Today we are going to compare Core i5 processors from the same price range designed for the same LGA 1155 platform but using different microarchitecture: Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge.