What’s In Store for Road Warriors and Desk Jockeys
Laptops and notebooks will first get the 4 Core/8 Thread Clarksfield (45nm) and a smaller 2 Core/4 Thread Arrandale (32nm) also offering on-die integrated graphics. Unfortunately, no information has been officially released as to what model Integrated Graphics Processors will be offered on the dual cores.
The nice thing about the Clarksfield and Arrandale integrated graphics is that it’s switchable. This means you can switch to a descrete graphics card during graphics intensive operations for better performance. When loads are light, you can switch to the integrated graphics to save power and increase battery life. This is not unlike what Apple has done with their new Aluminum Macbook Pro series that integrates two nVidia GPUs, switching from one chip to the other depending on the graphics processing power needed. Integrating the graphics means there’s no longer a need for a South Bridge.
The new Intel X58 platforms are slimming down even more since the Memory Controller is on the processor. The new socket 1156 P-series motherboards will start looking pretty spacious without two massive chipset heat sinks strapped to the PCB.
What About IT Jedi?
The Westmere design includes the Xeon series enterprise processors which is great news for IT departments (or not if you have a limited budget). There are three different series of Xeons for you to choose from: The Entry (EN), Efficient Performance (EP), and Expandable (EX) Expandable. The EP and EX are based on the Nehalem Processor which should offer great performance. The EN is based on the Lynnfield Processor aimed at businesses needing a more affordable server solution, but still offers an integrated memory controller (IMC).
Various improvements that will make the most difference are improved efficiency and more computing power than ever thanks to the IMC that keeps the 8 or more threads (depending on the processor model) fed with an enormous amount of memory bandwidth. If the roadmap continues on track, we could see the Westmere Xeons towards the end of the year. Since the Mac Pro is due for a long awaited refresh, we can already see the grins on the faces of Apple fanboys as they anticipate that “One more thing”.
All that talk of processor names, cores, and threads can still be a bit much for some. In case we lost you, here’s a nice little table Intel put together. Just remember ‘C’ refers to cores, ‘T’ refers to threads, and the processor name comes first.
As if the current i7 wasn’t fast enough, the future is poised to offer unseen performance gains throughout the content creation market. We can only hope game makers step up soon and provide us with experiences that take advantage of the extra cores. As far as Sandy Bridge is concerned, Intel hasn’t released any details since it’s still early in development. I’m sure they just want everyone to know that it’s business as usual despite the rhetoric from economic alarmists. The bottom line: computer forecasts call for great performance with intermittent waiting, followed by fantastic results.
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