Sandy Bridge means new mobile goodness, too

Although Intel’s last-minute decision to pull the Sandy Bridge launch forward forced us to concentrate on desktop versions, the company has also announced a whole family of notebook-bound processors based on its new architecture. I’ve got a notebook featuring one of those CPUs sitting next to me as I write this, and I’ll have a review for you guys soon—I promise. Right now, though, let’s have a quick look at the mobile Sandy Bridge lineup.

Intel has simultaneously announced a whopping 15 mobile offerings. These CPUs are priced between $225 and $1096 and fit into three categories: regular-voltage models with TDPs of 35-45W, regular-voltage “transactional SKUs” that will only be available in pre-built systems, and low-voltage models with TDPs of 17-25W. If you look past market segmentation and at the hardware itself, the mobile Sandy Bridge lineup is made up of two different silicon chips: a quad-core, eight-thread one and a dual-core, quad-thread design.

Here are the standard-voltage offerings:

Model Cores/

threads

Base core

clock speed

Peak Turbo

clock speed

L3 cache

size

DDR3 speed TDP Price
Core i7-2920XM 4/8 2.5 GHz 3.5 GHz 8 MB 1600 MHz 55W $1096
Core i7-2820QM 4/8 2.3 GHz 3.4 GHz 8 MB 1600 MHz 45W $568
Core i7-2720QM 4/8 2.2 GHz 3.3 GHz 6 MB 1600 MHz 45W $378
Core i7-2620M 2/4 2.7 GHz 3.4 GHz 4 MB 1333 MHz 35W $346
Core i5-2540M 2/4 2.6 GHz 3.3 GHz 3 MB 1333 MHz 35W $266
Core i5-2520M 2/4 2.5 GHz 3.2 GHz 3 MB 1333 MHz 35W $225

The four chips below are what Intel calls “transactional SKUs,” which we’re told “typically fulfill narrow OEM segmentation/channel needs.” In other words, you won’t see these in retail boxes, but they’ll probably make an appearance in systems from big PC vendors.

Model Cores/

threads

Base core

clock speed

Peak Turbo

clock speed

L3 cache

size

DDR3 speed TDP Price
Core i7-2635QM 4/8 2.0 GHz 2.9 GHz 6 MB 1333 MHz 45W N/A
Core i7-2630QM 4/8 2.0 GHz 2.9 GHz 6 MB 1333 MHz 45W N/A
Core i5-2410M 2/4 2.3 GHz 2.9 GHz 3 MB 1333 MHz 35W N/A
Core i3-2310M 2/4 2.1 GHz N/A 3 MB 1333 MHz 35W N/A

Incidentally, these OEM-only models are the only mobile Sandy Bridge parts to lack Intel vPro support, Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), and AES-NI instructions, which speed up AES data encryption.

Finally, we have the low-voltage offerings:

Model Cores/

threads

Base core

clock speed

Peak Turbo

clock speed

L3 cache

size

DDR3 speed TDP Price
Core i7-2649M 2/4 2.3 GHz 3.2 GHz 4 MB 1333 MHz 25W $346
Core i7-2629M 2/4 2.1 GHz 3.0 GHz 4 MB 1333 MHz 25W $311
Core i7-2657M 2/4 1.6 GHz 2.7 GHz 4 MB 1333 MHz 17W $317
Core i7-2617M 2/4 1.5 GHz 2.6 GHz 4 MB 1333 MHz 17W $289
Core i5-2537M 2/4 1.4 GHz 2.3 GHz 3 MB 1333 MHz 17W $250

What about successors to today’s Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage CPUs? You’re looking at them. Intel has decided to tear down the wall between CULV and ULV, combining them into a single nation of low-voltage mobile processors. I find the consolidation welcome, in light of the rather arbitrary naming scheme and somewhat blurry separation between past CULV and ULV offerings. Things look much simpler with the new silicon, even if prices are a wee bit higher. (For reference, the dual-core Celeron SU2300 sells for $134 in bulk quantities according to Intel’s price list, although it is admittedly a couple of generations old now.)

It’s worth noting that all the chips listed above feature Intel HD Graphics 3000, the full-featured variant of Sandy Bridge’s integrated graphics component with 12 execution units and 48 ALUs. The only differences, as far as I can see, lie with graphics clock speeds. All standard-voltage chips have a base graphics speed of 650MHz, while the 25W mobile parts are limited to 500MHz, and the 17W ones are stuck at 350MHz. Maximum dynamic graphics speeds vary, too: standard-voltage models can push their graphics cores to 1300MHz, while the OEM-only offerings reach 1100-1200MHz, and the low-voltage chips top out at 950-1100MHz.

So, when can we expect to see shiny new Sandy Bridge laptops on store shelves? Soon. Last we spoke, Intel told us that all quad-core offerings are available immediately, while dual-core ones will follow four to five weeks later—mid-February, in other words.

The review system Intel sent me is a big honkin’ 17″ contraption, but I’m excited to see what ultra-thin designs the low-voltage Sandy variants end up driving. We’re told those will be as thin as 0.8″, and judging by the desktop power consumption results, I’m sure battery life won’t be too shabby, either. At the same time, the presence of Hyper-Threading and the rather high peak Turbo speeds will likely translate into excellent performance.

Comments closed
    • abw
    • 9 years ago

    Incidentally, these OEM-only models are the only mobile Sandy Bridge parts to lack Intel vPro support, Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), and AES-NI instructions, which speed up AES data encryption.

    LOL

    • StashTheVampede
    • 9 years ago

    Still a shame that these chips cannot easily (read: Newegg.com) be purchased with desktop intentions (i.e. desktop mobo with some expansion capability). I’d really prefer to replace my existing C2D Mini with one of the lowest wattage variants and slap in a few HDs and some form of NAS distro.

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      This is what the S and T models of Sandy Bridge SKUs are for.

        • StashTheVampede
        • 9 years ago

        There are several 35W variants, yes:
        [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge_(microarchitecture)[/url<] I want a 17W or 25W mobile chip that I could purchase with a motherboard and build a system out of that.

          • travbrad
          • 9 years ago

          I wonder what power consumption would be like if you down clocked the 35W desktop parts. Obviously it wouldn’t reach the levels of a ULV mobile version, but it might not be too far off. Maybe not good enough for you though, since you are worried about a 10 watt difference in a desktop 😉

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 9 years ago

    So, if a Core i7-2620M (2.7-3.4ghz, 35W) where to battle a Core i3-2100 (stuck at 3.1ghz, 65W) which would turn in better CPU performance? Perhaps the 35W restriction will keep the mobile part behind the desktop part where the going gets tough.

    I think they should make a 2100K.

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    Oh great. There goes any chance for decent graphics in the portable (thin and lightish) notebook market segment – at least the ones that contain these new Intel chips – which will probably be most of the better ones..

    Now that the 3D graphics capabilities of the Intel chipset has been upgraded from abysmal (GMA4500HD) to mediocre (looks to be on par or maybe slightly faster than the Nvidia 210/310m – and this is for the non crippled regular TDP versions), there will be even less incentive for notebook makers to put decent discrete gpus in their sub 15″ form factors.

    But I guess this is still a step in the right direction. Why, oh why, does progress have to be so painful?

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      I would argue that when you are sub 15″, you care more about battery life than being able to play games on it? Then again, there’s Optimus but this is Nvidia specific tech that requires extra $$ to build.

        • HisDivineShadow
        • 9 years ago

        I keep hoping that a third party with some clout will show up and make an independent, credible alternative to Optimus that lets every CPU work with every GPU in like manner to the way Optimus has nVidia GPU’s work with Intel CPU’s.

        I don’t mind Optimus, except that it is exclusive to Intel+nV. I imagine AMD will probably have their own variant that works with their CPU’s and GPU’s. I’d like to see someone make it so an AMD 6k GPU (ie., mobile variant of the Desktop’s 68xx series) was able to power down when not gaming in a laptop with a Sandy Bridge i7.

        So when I’m not gaming, my laptop lasts 5-8 hours. When I’m gaming, I get the performance of a high end desktop from last year. Alas, nVidia’s stuck in the past with their mobility solutions, except for the Optimus tech itself.

          • SonicSilicon
          • 9 years ago

          That third party could be Lucid : [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/20182[/url<] They're working toward hardware agnostic, switchable graphics in desktops. The jump to laptops is harder as they have to sell OEMs completely on the concept instead of it being a possible option on a motherboard and letting consumers choose. As for AMD they already have have Hybrid CrossFire & Hybrid CrossFireX on desktops. The last I read about those for notebooks was an imminent arrival.

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    So you have to get the unlocked “K” versions of the desktop processors to get the better IGP, but all versions of the mobile chips have it — Huh?

      • FuturePastNow
      • 9 years ago

      1) It’s much easier to add a discrete GPU to a desktop if the IGP isn’t good enough

      2) The better IGP on all mobile processors was probably demanded by companies like Apple

      3) It’s possible the graphics part of the die has a higher defect rate than the CPU cores, in which case desktop processors with their higher TDP are a logical dumping ground for dies without fully-functional graphics

    • henfactor
    • 9 years ago

    Ouuu, maybe, just maybe, Apple will think of throwing some of these in their MacBooks. As awesome as those C2D’s are, I’d say they could probably add 1-2 more hours of battery as well as make the system much faster.

    But that’s all assuming Apple follows some form of logic…

      • vvas
      • 9 years ago

      Apple [i<]does[/i<] follow a logic. They need OpenCL support from the GPU, integrated or otherwise. Intel so far has not implemented any OpenCL support for its integrated graphics chips, which is why Apple is either using a discrete GPU or sticking to C2D + nvidia chipset where there isn't enough space for a third chip (i.e., 13" and lower). So what Apple will do for smaller laptops when it comes to Sandy Bridge is a bit of a mystery at the moment. Here are some alternatives: [list=a<] [*<]They might be writing their own OpenCL drivers for Sandy Bridge's integrated GPU, if the hardware is flexible enough under the hood to support that. Unlikely, because most sources seem to imply that it's not. [/*<][*<]They might have been the real driving force behind the (alleged) Intel/nvidia settlement, with the aim of sourcing an integrated graphics chipset from nvidia for Sandy Bridge. Unlikely, because nvidia has pretty much discontinued its chipset R&D at this point. [/*<][*<]They might keep using C2D for those models. Unlikely, because C2D is really starting to show its age now. [/*<][*<]They might say fuck it and drop OpenCL for those models. Unlikely, because that doesn't sound like the Apple thing to do. [/*<][*<]They might switch to the upcoming Llano processor from AMD. Unlikely? I don't know, I can't find any good reason why they wouldn't, other than the fact that they've never used AMD before. Though I guess a potential sticking point would be whether AMD (and by extension, GlobalFoundries) could guarantee the production quantities that Apple usually requires.[/*<] [/list<] So what will Apple do with its next laptop refresh? Damn me if I know. But I wouldn't be that quick to brand them as illogical. It's just that, most of the times, they keep their logic very close to their chest. :^)

        • vvas
        • 9 years ago

        Automatic filtering of four-letter words? Seriously now?

          • Flying Fox
          • 9 years ago

          TR is a family site.

    • Chun¢
    • 9 years ago

    Any word if these will also be on a different socket than the current mobile i5’s and i7’s?

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      As far as I know, everything announced today has a new socket and will not work in any old motherboards, notebooks, etc.

      Has Intel ever released a new architecture and actually supported the previous motherboard chipset? In modern times? Intel is a “solutions”-based business. They don’t want to just sell you an upgrade CPU. They want you buying a CPU, chipset, wireless networking, and SSD combo from them.

      The best way to ensure you’re buying into that is to constantly make their next gen CPU incompatible with their existing chipsets, even if it needn’t have to be.

        • Chun¢
        • 9 years ago

        I hoped that they’d be faster to do that with the desktop than with mobile parts. Oh well my i5 is plenty fast as is.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    OMG. LOSE THE VOTING. IT’S RETARDED. EVERYONE IS GETTING VOTED DOWN, ALL THE TIME. IT’S RIDICULOUS.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Not everyone. Just veteran trolls.

      Let me demonstrate.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        +4? Goddammit!

          • TaBoVilla
          • 9 years ago

          lol

      • cynan
      • 9 years ago

      After the initial excitement wears off (aka, kid with a new toy syndrome), hopefully the voting system will prove more… …functional? Or at least less of a joke.

      At any rate, I take it as a positive indication that that TR is comimtted to keeping up with the Jones by providing the amenities of modern websites.

      • Bauxite
      • 9 years ago

      Voting would probably work out in the long run if it was not anonymous. Require a simple explanation field as well, then you can run with a meta-moderator/karma system. Even with such a system, it would be quite “safe” to give bad marks to the usual abusive/spam/garbage posts.

      Rating actual intelligent posts down simply because you disagree with them (or worse, “don’t like them”) serves no purpose, but its a rampant flaw with simple systems like these. Most of it is due to the anonymous jerk syndrome combined with the common tendency for people suppress anything and anyone that does not fit their own (limited) viewpoint.

    • bimmerlovere39
    • 9 years ago

    Okay, now I’m really looking forward to what Apple and Lenovo put these in.

    I’m seeing some epic potential in the T400 and X200 series. 😀

    Not to dream too much, but a quad core T420s with Optimus that can last 8+ hours under light loads sounds like it might be possible. Given a big enough battery, of course. But I think Lenovo’s shown they aren’t afraid of using big batteries. 🙂

    Yes, this could be very good news for laptops.

      • Ethyriel
      • 9 years ago

      Me too, on the Lenovo side anyway. It’s almost time to decide if I go T420s with Optimus and a docking station to replace my desktop and a netbook to replace my X61s when it eventually dies, or replace my X61s with an X220s or whatever they call it and build a new desktop.

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      If Lenovo could put a half decent screen in their T series, I might consider them. The T410 screen I saw was pathetic at best, even for business use.

        • bimmerlovere39
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, it’s a shame the screens are so bad. It’s the only major flaw that they have, in my opinion.

        I’ll keep hoping, though. Surely we can get a decent one eventually?

          • Ethyriel
          • 9 years ago

          I think it’s partly because they keep clinging to the old, taller aspect ratios, so have fewer choices as far as manufacturers and models. As much as I hate the wider screens, I think 16:9 is here to stay, and that Lenovo is going to be forced into it with these newer models. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some better screens because of it.

            • bimmerlovere39
            • 9 years ago

            If that’s the case, PLEASE, LENOVO, just give in and go to 16:9.

            • Ethyriel
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah, as long as they offer a 1600×900 option on the X2x0s, I’m ok with it. I do hate losing vertical pixels, but I suppose I’ll survive so long as I have at least 900. I get by alright with my 1024×768 X61s, but I’d really rather not have to anymore.

            If they offer 1920×1080 on the T420s I’m all over that. Hopefully they knock one of these machines out of the park, so I can just buy the damned thing and be happy.

            • Flying Fox
            • 9 years ago

            I find that with the new found craze for the 16:9 screen, I just throw the task bar to the left to reclaim me some vertical space. Good thing Win7 finally gives us more proper support for task bar docked to the sides. 😉

            • Ethyriel
            • 9 years ago

            I’ll have to give that a try in one of my Win7 installs. A long time ago I really wanted to do that everywhere, but nothing besides Xfce let me do it without feeling dirty. I just kind of forgot about the possibility.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 9 years ago

    Intel’s bringing back turbo?
    I hope I’m misreading what turbo is. It just seems like a marketing ploy to advertise a lower TDP to look “green.” At any rate, it appears to be based on the lowest clock rate as opposed to the highest possible achievable “turbo” rate.
    Have I misinterpreted this?

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      Where have you been over the past year or so?

        • SonicSilicon
        • 9 years ago

        I was not building a computer. :-p
        It’s likely I glossed over the marketing and just noticed it now.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      “Have I misinterpreted this?”

      Yes.

    • ew
    • 9 years ago

    The amount they’re charging for a 100mhz bump in speed is just ridiculous. It’s less then 5% speed increase for as much as ~25% price increase!

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      Mobile processors are always like that. You new? 😛

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 9 years ago

        No, but he is ew! [sub<]jk[/sub<] 😀

        • ew
        • 9 years ago

        Oh right. I forgot it’s ok because that’s the way it’s always been.

          • Ethyriel
          • 9 years ago

          It’s ok because laptop engineers are working with much smaller thermal and power envelopes.

    • glacius555
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder if these chips gonna transform into the biggest chunk of their 2011 profits, they seem kinda pricey..

    • maroon1
    • 9 years ago

    Here is a review for i7-2820QM + HD3000 graphics from anandtech
    [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4084/intels-sandy-bridge-upheaval-in-the-mobile-landscape/1[/url<] Looks very impressive. Mostly faster then desktop i7-920, pretty capable graphics (level of hd5470 & 320M) and excellent battery life. EDIT: Here is another review for i7-2820QM [url<]http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Intel-Core-i72820QM-Mobile-Sandy-Bridge-Processor-Review/?page=1[/url<]

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 9 years ago

      Wait a minute?! A IGP that can play games? Repent, the end has arrived!

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    /Patiently waits for new new laptop to be announced…

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    I believe the C2D in my two-year-old 13 inch Macbook (5,2) is a 25 W jobbie. I know that larger models use 35 W parts. Does this mean it’s likely we won’t be seeing any quad-core love in the Apple 13-15 inch realm this time around? It’d be a big shame if that’s the case.

    I wonder if the consolidation of bits onto the ‘CPU’ will offset heat that would have otherwise been generated elsewhere enough to see 45 W (i.e. quad-core) parts used in the upcoming Macbook 13-15 inch model refresh.

    I look forward to your review Cyril. I’m very keen to see the graphics performance of these chips.

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      Since Arrandale you have to re-read the TDP numbers. Since a significant portion of chipset core logic is now on the CPU, overall TDP of CPU+chipset is still on the down trend. The C2D may be a 25W chip, but at the time the chipset was at the 10-15W range as well.

      • jstern
      • 9 years ago

      I quickly read through your post, so I hope I understood what you’re talking about.

      I have a 2.5 i5 on my laptop. It’s a 35w CPU, but the highest it goes, when on full load I believe is 28w, when on idle 6 watts. I’m guessing that since it’s has a GPU, and I have a mobility Radeon that takes care of the graphics, only the CPU portions of my CPU is active.

      Again, I quickly read your post, and I’m not a CPU expert.

    • KamikaseRider
    • 9 years ago

    That Core i7-2620M is looking like a good candidate for my next laptop.

      • grantmeaname
      • 9 years ago

      The 2649M looks way better to me, for the money.

    • rechicero
    • 9 years ago

    Changed to the correct thread

    • BlackStar
    • 9 years ago

    IBTS.

    In Before The Sweatshopking.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Well done!

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Damn – I must have some hardcore fans.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      well done sir. Sadly, I don’t have the time to get as many of these as i used too….

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 9 years ago

      and by like 3 hours ! Was your new year’s resolution spam F5 ?

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