|Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 23 April 2012|
Page 3 of 19
Ivy Bridge and the Z77 Express
Ivy Bridge architecture is pretty much Sandy Bridge: the fact that this CPU family is a "tick" means that Intel's more interested in process refinement rather than big architectural changes. Still, there are a few new items, and here's what Intel would like you to know about:
As far as actual performance improvements go, Intel's test results show raw compute performance in the range of 3%-9% better than a Core i7-2700K in most benchmarks. Intel says the biggest performance improvement will be with graphics and transcoding using the HD4000 integrated GPU, when compared to the previous-generation Intel HD3000 GPU built into the Sandy Bridge processors. The video transcoding should be a nice win if you have a program that uses this feature, but even double the performance of the HD3000 isn't anything that will excite most gamers, as we'll see in the graphics benchmarks later in this review.
While the desktop Ivy Bridge CPUs don't seem to have many real advantages over Sandy Bridge, in the ultrabook catagory we're going to see some action. Ultrabooks are hot, and Ivy Bridge mobile CPUs will bring significant power savings, which is a real win when you're running on a battery. Apple is expected to revamp its entire Macbook line to Ivy Bridge, while bringing all models to Air-like thinness, and just about every PC vendor has new Ivy Bridge-based ultrabooks coming out as well.
Intel's official "die shot" of the Ivy Bridge CPU looks almost identical to the one they showed for Sandy Bridge. Sharp-eyed observers will notice that the Processor Graphics section looks different, with what appear to be eight "cores" instead of the six visible in the Sandy Bridge die shot. This works out well with the increase in functional units from 12 in Sandy Bridge to 16 in Ivy Bridge, assuming two "functional units" per core.
Intel has introduced ten new chipsets (collectively known as Panther Point) to support their twelve new Ivy Bridge CPUs. We're interested in the top-end desktop offering, the Z77 Express. If you think the diagram below looks exactly like that for the Z68 Express chipset, you're forgiven: the differences are few and subtle. Comparing the two charts, the differences are:
You might be disappointed that there are only four USB 3.0 ports, and still only two SATA 6G ports. Intel says the native USB 3.0 ports will provide better performance than provided by third-party USB 3.0 controllers, and there's a subtle extra advantage in that the on-chip ports don't require any PCI-E lanes to implement. Still, I had hoped for more from this upgrade, as I did from the X79 Express chipset.
Disappointments with the chipset aside, let's get to testing this setup.