Much Improved Integrated Graphics in Intel’s Ivy Bridge

199 per cent better to be precise, according to Intel. Ivy Bridge will replace Sandy Bridge as the company’s first processor on the 22nm production process and will be launched somewhere around March/April. While power efficiency and to some extent overall performance will be improved in the upcoming processors, the biggest improvement will be seen in the integrated graphics part–even to an extent that might make it relevant for gaming on entry-level laptops. Just like in the current Sandy Bridge processor lineup, the graphics part will be integrated in the same piece of silicon as the processor itself.

It will remain far from sufficient to replace dedicated laptop graphics cards, but for those who mainly play World of Warcraft and other non-demanding titles the performance increase could be just about enough to make integrated graphics worthwhile. The triple-performance figure comes from an allegedly leaked slide from Intel that depicts 3DMark Vantage results over its predecessor. No actual score is provided, only the relative difference compared to Sandy Bridge. It’s also a desktop chip, but it should scale rather accurately to notebooks as long as they are not of the low-voltage variety, which come with lower clocks overall.

Ivy Bridge

For hardcore gamers this improvement means little, considering that the current HD Graphics 3000 delivers somewhere around 1,300 points in 3DMark Vantage in combination with a quad-core CPU, but if the Ivy Bridge improvement (HD Graphics 4000) manages to bring that score up to around 4,000 points it should mean that even current games would be playable at low to medium settings–as long as Intel manages to supply good driver support, which is an area where Intel hardly has an excellent track record.

In terms of raw processing power, the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors–particularly on the mobile front–will probably focus more on power efficiency than increases. Nevertheless, the Intel pamphlets that are now in general circulation indicate a 7 to 25 % improvement thanks to better implementation of Turbo Boost and a faster cache than in the Sandy Bridge family. The results are in other words better than what might have been expected from the transistor shrinkage alone.


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