RWT goes inside Sandy Bridge's graphics architecture
David Kanter over at Real World Tech has been producing a nice string of processor architecture articles this summer, and his latest may be one of the most interesting. He's managed to wrangle a wealth of information about the graphics processor integrated into Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, and he's mapped out that IGP in quite of bit of detail.
Nearly everything one could want is there, from an exposition of the shader processing resources to a map of the ROP hardware, and David makes direct comparisons to the IGP in AMD's LLano processor throughout, to provide context. Crucially, he sorts out some of the rather confusing terminology differences between AMD, Nvidia, and Intel, so you'll end the article having a better sense of how the Sandy Bridge IGP's "12 EUs" match up to the seemingly vastly more numerous "shader cores" in the Llano IGP. He addresses with clear eyes the cases where the Intel IGP is deficient—support for DirectX 11 and OpenCL, for instance—and where it leads the industry—integration on a common ring and smart sharing of the last-level cache. Recommended reading.