Articles: CPU

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Performance-per-Watt To Be Higher

First of all, the new production process will allow Intel to significantly lower the heat dissipation. And it is actually not only due to the transition to 22 nm, but also due to the involvement of Tri-Gate Transistors. These transistors allow eliminating leakage currents very effectively. In pure numbers, Intel claims that the performance-per-watt is going to almost double compared with what we got from Sandy Bridge. It is going to be really great, because Intel intends to aggressively promote Ultrabooks, which require energy-efficient and at the same time powerful processors. So, the arrival of Ivy Bridge should really stimulate the progress in this direction significantly.

It was specifically with Ultrabooks in mind that they decided to integrate DDR3L memory support into their current memory controller. DDR3L is the memory with lower power consumption that uses only 1.35 V voltage feed. And we are talking not just about lower signal voltages, but also about the ability to shut off I/O power to DDR memory in deep sleep states.

But the absolute killer feature in the upcoming Ivy Bridge, which will be related to heat dissipation, will be configurable TDP and Low Power Mode.

As you know, each currently available Intel processor has a clearly identified TDP, within which the frequency may sometimes be increased with the help of Turbo Boost technology. Ivy Bridge processors will have three TDP options for each CPU model: the minimum TDP, the nominal TDP and the maximum TDP. It means that with proper cooling and sufficient power supply the CPU can significantly exceed its nominal frequency without any concerns for the limitations of the nominal TDP. This is something that the Turbo Boost technology the way it is today doesn’t allow, because it is closely connected with the TDP settings. The opposite is also true: if for whatever reason you need to save some power, then you can always switch the processor TDP to a lower level.

Of course, this technology is targeted primarily for mobile use, where it will be in great demand. It will certainly work in parallel with Enhanced Intel SpeedStep and Turbo Boost. The major difference in this case is that EIST and Turbo Boost are independent technologies, while configurable TDP works in manual mode only. In other words, the user himself will be also to switch the TDP modes using a special switch on the laptop, or it will be done via special proprietary software developed and supplied by the notebook makers themselves.

Another Intel’s trick with Low Power Mode implies that in this mode Intel engineers want to replace the common system agent algorithms with new ones. According to the developers, in this mode the processor will try to save as much power as possible by distributing all computational threads among as few cores as they can in order to switch as many cores as possible into power-saving mode. In regular operational modes the computational threads are evenly distributed among the cores to improve the system response time.

Overclocking To Get Better, but Just a Little

In reality overclockers’ biggest issue with the LGA1155 platform is that there is no straight-forward way to overclock anything by simply adjusting the BCLK frequency. And so far it looks like things will hardly be any different in Ivy Bridge. However, Intel didn’t give up on overclockers and introduced four pretty useful features.

First, the maximum multiplier for the new Ivy Bridge processors will be x63 instead of x57, as it used to be. As a result, those who like to play with liquid nitrogen will be able to achieve much higher frequencies. But nevertheless, we are not talking about anything like 8.4 GHz, which AMD Bulldozer turned out capable of.

Secondly, Intel is going to make their memory controller support much faster DDR3 SDRAM. The fastest DDR3 SDRAM Sandy Bridge currently supports is DDR3-2133 memory, but they promise us we will be able to use up to DDR3-2800. There is currently no memory like that available in the market, but Intel believes that DDR3 can easily hit these speeds.

Thirdly, we should get a smaller adjustment increment for the memory frequency than the 266 MHz that we have today. According to Intel, it should be no more than 200 MHz.

But the most interesting thing is the ability to dynamically adjust the processor clock frequency multiplier without a system reboot. It means that there will appear multiple utilities, which will allow not only overclocking the processor easily, but also using some unique algorithms to adjust the processor frequency, for example, depending on the operational load or temperature. In other words, Intel wants to give advanced users something like a configurable Turbo Boost with software control.

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