We thought we'd take this opportunity to sum up what's new with regards to the Maho Bay platform and also take a look at the performance of Ivy Bridge, as Intel kindly provided some in-house benchmarks in the roadmap. As we know, Intel is calling Ivy Bridge a Tick+ and rather than just being a die shrink of Sandy Bridge, there are actually what appears to be some quite tangible performance improvements, but more on that a little later.
Let's start with a brief overview of the Maho Bay playform which as we already know will feature Intel's 7-series chipsets. As far as the chipset and motherboards are concerned there are really only two new features and neither of them are what we'd call revolutionary. The first being support for USB 3.0 and here we're looking at four ports regardless of chipset. The other interesting feature is support for up to three displays powered by the new IGP, a feature we have a feeling will be more appreciated in the business segment of the market than among consumers. Compared to the 6-series chipsets the only other addition is the fact that the Z77 chipset will support an unusual PCI Express slot configuration where one slot gets eight lanes of bandwidth and two slots get four lanes each.
As far as the Ivy Bridge CPUs are concerned we're looking at a lower TDP for the high-end models of 77W, a pair of new IGP's called Intel HD Graphics 4000 and 2500, improved Quick Sync and improved support for OpenCL. We may or may not see support for PCI Express 3.0, as one of our sources has informed us that Intel is currently having some issues getting it all to work as intended, so although the motherboards will technically support PCI Express 3.0, at least the first batch of CPUs might not. That said, Intel has a few months to solve this problem and we have a feeling that Intel is putting a lot of resources into solving this issue.
This time around more CPUs are also getting the high-end IGP, although oddly enough half of them are 65 or 45W parts with the only 77W non K SKU getting Intel HD Graphics 4000 is the Core i7-3770, yet another strange reasoning by Intel, although not quite as poorly thought out as with the graphics options for Sandy Bridge. In all fairness, Intel did add a couple of lower-end CPUs with HD Graphics 3000 and we might see some Core i3 Ivy Bridge models with HD Graphics 4000. The new GPU also brings with it Quick Sync 2.0 and this is where we get to the first benchmarks. We'd take this with a pinch of salt, as it is after all Intel's own benchmarks, but using ArcSoft MediaConverter 7 the Core i7-3770 is 56 percent faster than the Core i7-2600 when it comes to transcoding a 10 minute HD video to a different HD format, that's a pretty impressive performance boost.
Keeping with graphics related performance, as you can see from the graph above; Intel has really managed to boost its 3D graphics performance, at least in old benchmarks, as the new IGP nearly three times faster in 3DMark Vantage running the standard performance preset. This isn't exactly a cutting edge test these days, but it's still a good indicator of how much better the new IGP is. Do keep in mind that the IGP in Ivy Bridge is 200MHz slower than the one in Sandy Bridge, even at its highest Turbo clock and it's clear that Intel has done a fair bit of work here.
Moving on to some CPU benchmarks for the Core i7 we're looking at fairly minor performance improvements ranging between seven and 15 percent on average, although as you can see Intel has managed to get a 25 percent performance improvement running financial analysis scripts in Excel. The Core i5 is showing similar performance figures with improvements of between five and 16 percent, although we should point out that the 65W S models are seeing a bigger performance boost overall of between nine and 24 percent, no matter the CPU SKU. This is good news for those of you that are planning on getting all-in-one systems where these CPUs are generally used.
Ivy Bridge won't be a huge leap forward in terms of CPU performance and it looks like we'll have to wait for Haswell in 2013 to see if Intel can make another significant jump in CPU performance. In all fairness it looks like Ivy Bridge will be more than good enough for consumers though with vastly improved graphics – at least in some models – and a few additional features. The desktop CPU market is clearly slowing down in terms of big jumps in performance and it's not hard to see that Intel is spending the big money on developing its mobile products. Even so, the desktop market isn't going to disappear any time soon, it's just that we've reached a point where it's questionable as to how much more CPU performance is needed until the software we use demands it and the current trend appears to be less resource intensive software anyhow. If you want more details, head over to the source link below where you should be able to find the full roadmap available for download.