|Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 03 January 2011|
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Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge CPU Review
Intel's processor development follows a regular "tick-tock" cycle. The "tick" is the refinement of an existing architecture; the "tock" is a new architecture. Proceeding at a roughly yearly pace, the "tick-tock" model brought us the 45nm Nehalem architecture processors (the original Core-i3, -i5, and -i7 CPUs) as a "tock", and the subsequent 32nm Westmere processors as the "tick" part of the cycle. Now, Intel introduces their new Sandy Bridge architecture as the latest "tock", and Benchmark Reviews checks out the new Sandy Bridge-based Core i7-2600K. This unlocked, 3.4GHz, Hyper-Threading, quad-core CPU is the top of the Sandy Bridge line, and we'll see how it performs against the best AMD processors and Intel's own as well.
Intel's first quad-core processors were merely two dual-core dies on a single chip; the CPUs had to communicate across the front-side bus. Later iterations put all four CPU cores on a single slice of silicon. In a similar fashion, Intel's Clarksdale processors had on-chip video, but it was simply a separate GPU placed on the same chip as the CPU cores— even the process used was different: 32nm for the CPU cores and 40nm for the GPU. But the Sandy Bridge CPUs make the transition to a truly integrated product, with all four CPU cores and a GPU core on the same silicon. There's even a shared Level 3 cache that's used by both the CPU and GPU cores.
The integrated graphics core is the Intel HD Graphics 3000core, and Intel promises about twice the performance of the graphics core in the Clarksdale-architecture Core i5-661 processor. Like the CPU cores, the GPU core uses Intel's Turbo Boost technology to increase its power draw and performance when thermal and power headroom permit. Since the Cougar Point motherboards I had available for this test were all based on the P67 Express chipset, which doesn't support the integrated graphics of the Sandy Bridge processors, I wasn't able to test the graphics features of this CPU.
Manufacturer: Intel Corporation
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Intel Corporation.