Intel Sandy Bridge at CES 2011

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The new Intel Sandy Bridge platform launch represents a huge step forward for Intel in multiple areas. The latest processor lineup substantially increases the performance compared to the previous Core Series line (above 50% in some areas), lowers power consumption, adds new security integration for secure streaming movies, enhances integrated graphics, and improves the popular Wireless Display capabilities in notebooks. To say the least, Sandy Bridge brings a lot of new stuff to the table.

A huge push this year is how much faster and efficient the newest platform is compared to the previous Intel mobile chipsets. When compared to the original Core 2 Duo, the results are even more impressive. Intel released some performance teasers, with the new Intel Core i7-2720QM outperforming the original Core 2 Duo T7250 by an impressive 831% in Microsoft Excel financial calculations. The newer 32nm manufacturing process also improves on battery life with the smaller die reducing power leakage.

Sandy Bridge also marks the first time Intel has brought the GPU directly onto the processor die, allowing it to share the cache with the processor cores, and improving 3D performance by a huge margin. While it’s hard to backup their claims before reviewing any of these new systems, they did mention the latest Intel GMA HD graphics would be faster than 40-50% of the dedicated graphics cards currently on the market. Compared to the 130nm chipset process in 2006, graphics performance has jumped by an astonishing factor of 25.

The latest Intel GMA HD graphics improves gaming performance for most users, allowing gamers to finally be able to get reasonable 3D performance without upgrading to a notebook with dedicated graphics. We were shown a few clips, including some gameplay on the new Valve Portal 2 game, with it rendering from a new Sandy Bridge platform.

Another big push by Intel this year is to get more notebooks involved in your home theater. They announced a new secure-link feature integrated into the processor itself called Intel Insider, which allows content providers to securely stream HD content to new computers. Intel has partnered with many media outlets, including Best Buy, to offer streaming HD movies to consumers (which had previously been limited to SD in most areas for fear of piracy). Also related to movies is the huge boost in transcoding performance that the Sandy Bridge platform offers, with claims that it is faster than any current dedicated GPU transcoding method on the market right now.

To help stream these new movies to your flatscreen HDTV, Intel has also updated the Wireless Display, or Wi-Di technology, for Sandy Bridge. Previously limited to just 720P resolutions, it now gets increased to 1080P for a Full HD experience.
Overall Intel’s announcement today brings a lot of cool stuff to the average user looking to purchase a computer in the next year. It’s hard to complain when processors get faster, more power efficient, and loaded with new features after all.



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