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Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge Processor E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors
Written by David Ramsey   
Monday, 23 April 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge Processor
Features and Specifications
Ivy Bridge and the Z77 Express
Processor Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
PCMark 7 Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
CPU-Dependent 3D Gaming
PassMark PerformanceTest
Media Encoding Benchmarks
HD4000: Quick Sync
HD4000: DX10 Performance
HD4000: DX11 Performance
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Blender and POV-Ray
Memory Bandwidth and Overclocking
Ivy Bridge Final Thoughts
Intel Core i7-3770K Conclusion

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:

  • Intel Rapid Start technology uses an SSD to hold system state information, enabling very rapid wake-up from a power-down state. Think of it as hibernation on steroids. This is something you'll see on Ivy Bridge-based laptops and ultrabooks.
  • Intel HD4000 graphics offer up to double the performance of HD3000, as well as improved Quick Sync transcoding and 3D performance.
  • The 16 PCI-E lanes provided by the CPU are now Gen 3 instead of Gen 2; this means twice the bandwidth per lane.
  • Integrated USB 3.0 (four ports) via the Z77 chipset.
  • Hardware based random number generation for encryption and security applications.
  • Improved overclocking features with higher CPU multiplier limits, finer DDR3 frequency control, and XMP 1.3 support.

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.

Ivy-Bridge_Die_Label.jpg

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:

  • Some PCI-E lanes for Thunderbolt support
  • Four native USB 3.0 ports. Finally.
  • Official support of DDR3-1600
  • Intel Rapid Start Technology (not directly on the chart, but included in "Responsiveness Technologies")
msi_Z77a-gd65_chipset.jpg

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.



 

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