Sandy Bridge architecture in the Intel E3 Xeon 1200 series processors promise to be a quantum step in processor performance. With Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, 32nm fabrication, redesign of certain features, and introduction of several other new features is much more than just an upgrade. Here are three ways the Sandy Bridge Xeon E3-1200 processor series impacts the computing industry.
1. Increased Power Efficiency
Many of the new and redesigned features incorporated into the Sandy Bridge architecture are designed to reduce power. For instance, the front end of the processor shuts down when the chip detects a loop, greatly reducing power consumption. Power reductions are also accomplished by caching and reducing the need to decode instructions. The net effect is that servers and appliances can do more work by consuming less power.
2. Increased Computing Density
With its 32nm mask fabrication, Sandy Bridge architecture squeezes 995 million transistors into a 216mm2 footprint. Compare that to the 296 million transistors of the Lynnfield processor released in September 2009 with a larger 296mm2 footprint. The new architecture also incorporates more hardware into its smaller footprint, including graphics, cache, clocking, and interface components.
While the initial release includes only dual and quad core versions, both 6 and 8 core versions will be released for the server market. These chips will pack a truly massive amount of computing power into a relatively small package.
3. Increased Processing Speed
Utilization of a ring bus between cores, Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, and System Agent access to the L3 cache is reduced. With the System Agent on board to handle access to PCI and DDR memory and operating at the same clock speed as the cores, speed of access is further increased. Combined, these features add up to higher effective processor speeds. The core can actually be over-clocked in excess of 4GHz.
Sandy Bridge architecture provides increased power efficiency while providing increased computer densities and processing speeds. This provides greater benefits when running Virtual Machines (VM) as more VMs can be packed on a single server. Now that it’s available, the question to ask yourself is, “Are you willing to settle for anything less?”