Intel Initiates Mass Production of Sandy Bridge Microprocessors

Intel Expects Rapid Ramp of Sandy Bridge Chips

by Anton Shilov
10/12/2010 | 11:28 PM

Intel Corp. started volume manufacturing of its next-generation code-named Sandy Bridge microprocessors in the third quarter. The company plans to start revenue shipments of its future chips in Q4 2010 and expects demand for the products to be very high thanks to substantially improved performance of integrated graphics core that allows system makers to drop low-end discrete components.

 

"[In the third quarter] we began volume production of Sandy Bridge and expect to ship revenue units in Q4 as we prepare for systems launch in the first quarter of 2011. Sandy Bridge represents the largest increase in computing performance in our history. This is a truly stunning product that we cannot wait to bring to market. Early demand from customers is much greater than we originally expected and we anticipate a very fast ramp," said Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.

The first Intel Sandy Bridge chips will feature two or four cores with Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technology as well as integrated graphics processor that will actually be on the same die as the x86 cores, according to previous reports. There will be a lot of different models with 65W (dual-core, quad-core) or 95W (quad-core) thermal design power. The new processors will use LGA1155 form-factor and will only be compatible with platforms based on the Intel 6-series chipsets.

The two key improvements of Sandy Bridge are a new integrated graphics core with much increased performance as well as Intel AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) technology which, when used by software programmers, will increase performance in floating point, media, and processor intensive software, according to the Intel. Key features of Intel AVX include wider vectors, increasing from 128 bit to 256 bit wide, resulting in up to 2x peak FLOPs output; enhanced data rearrangement, resulting in allowing data to be pulled more efficiently, and three operand, non-destructive syntax for a range of benefits. Intel AVX can also increase energy efficiency beyond the increases brought by the micro-architectural innovations, and is backwards compatible to existing Intel processors.

Thanks to much improved performance of built-in graphics core of Sandy Bridge, system makers will be able to drop low-end integrated graphics from ATI or Nvidia, which will reduce their costs and will boost profitability. Analyst also expect high-speed integrated graphics to dramatically affect the market of entry-level standalone graphics cards.

"Our customers are very well aware of the quality of the integrated graphics and immediate performance of this product. And that will help them make trade-offs in their bill of materials as they make SKU selections and configurations and so forth, which, I think, will benefit Intel," said Mr. Otellini.