Articles: Graphics

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You should have already heard that Intel has temporarily stopped shipping their chipsets for Sandy Bridge processors because of the recently found error in them. This resulted in much more serious consequences, such as the termination of LGA1155 mainboards sales and even recalls of some systems built on the new CPUs. However, despite these events, we decided not to give up posting articles dedicated to the new processors. First, the discovered error is only affecting the chipset SATA controller and doesn’t concern the actual processors at all. Second, Intel promises to resume shipping their corrected chipsets in about a few weeks from now already, so LGA1155 systems and components should come back to the market. All in all, these problems do not seem to have anything to do with the processors at all, and when things go back to normal again, everything we have to say in our today’s review will be definitely current.

We have every reason to consider Intel a success in the graphics market. Although they have given up chips for discrete graphics accelerators back in the previous century (I hope some of you remember the epochal Intel 740), Intel’s share in the graphics market hasn’t been below 50% for the past few years already. The key to Intel’s success is the smart way of promoting integrated graphics solutions, which are extremely popular and are used in a variety of mobile as well as desktop systems. Moreover, there are no reasons to believe that this share may drop any time soon. On the contrary, when Intel started their production of high-performance Clarkdale and Arrandale processors with the integrated graphics core last year, their positions in the graphics market may improve even more, because now users get Intel graphics with the processor and therefore see no reason to replace it with anything else.

The increasing CPU integration, when processors gradually adopt new functional units, is not the only reason why Intel is so successful in the graphics market. The company is not wasting any time and is gradually improving the performance as well as functionality of their graphics cores. Intel HD Graphics core that was added to Clarkdale and Arrandale processors last year, turned out to be a big step forward. It lifted the integrated graphics performance to a new level, by allowing users to run not only the old 3D games, but also a number of new games. Of course, these are not any of the latest 3D shooters, but mostly games like The Sims and World of Warcraft, which are in fact just as popular.

The recent launch of the Intel Sandy Bridge processors may be regarded as another important milestone on this path. Further processor integration led to the integrated graphics core being placed on the same semiconductor die as the other CPU functional units and therefore direct communication between them. This turned out to be a surprisingly successful solution, so now the integrated graphics core has sped up so significantly, that it may even compete against entry-level discrete graphics accelerators. At the same time, we should also keep in mind that the new graphics core is extremely energy-efficient: the developers made sure that it surpassed inexpensive graphics cards in performance-per-watt aspect. As a result, Sandy Bridge becomes a desirable component for notebooks and contemporary energy-efficient desktops, such as home theater PCs. At least this is what Intel claims.

And what is the real state of things? Our today’s test session will answer this question for you. We are going to study the new generation graphics cores – Intel HD Graphics 2000 and Intel HD Graphics 3000, which are used in mobile and desktop Core processors from the new Sandy Bridge generation.

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