Purported Intel Sandy Bridge die shot leaks out

You'll probably want to take this news with a fist-sized grain of salt, but French website Canard PC claims to have posted the first die shot of Intel's next-gen Sandy Bridge processor. For the unacquainted, Sandy Bridge is the next major architectural refresh after Nehalem, based on 32nm process technology.

The image purportedly shows a Sandy Bridge die from week 23 (June 7 to June 13), which measures around 225 mm² and contains four CPU cores, one graphics core, a DDR3 memory controller, and I/O logic. Each CPU core features an enhanced version of the Nehalem architecture with a new Advanced Vector Extension (AVX) instruction set—essentially a new SSE with 256-bit vectors. AMD also plans to support AVX in future chips.

Unlike Intel's 32nm Westmere processors, which put the graphics core and memory controller on separate dies, Sandy Bridge apparently has everything sharing the same piece of silicon. Counting pixels suggests that Sandy Bridge's GPU takes up about as much room as 2.3 processor cores, even though it's based on the same 32nm process as the rest of the chip. An 8MB L3 cache shared between the CPU and GPU cores via a "ring architecture" also takes up a decent chunk of real estate.

Sandy Bridge parts will supposedly have 85W power envelopes and clock speeds around the 3GHz mark. Turbo Boost should be able to speed up individual cores to as much as 3.8GHz, but the graphics core will run at a slower 1-1.4GHz. On the I/O front, the diagram suggests Sandy Bridge will have DMI and PCI Express 2.0 connectivity built in but no QuickPath, just like Lynnfield. For that reason, Canard PC expects Intel to target Sandy Bridge at the mainstream market.

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