Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3770K quad-core CPU
The generation game
Intel loves marketing jargon for most things it produces, and the company’s processor architecture roadmap is no different. In Intel speak, this moves along in "Tick-Tock" sequence. The Tock refers to a major revamp to the core architecture, while the Tick covers changes to the manufacturing process.
Chip off the old block
In the case of Ivy Bridge, then, it’s the Tick to the Tock of Sandy Bridge: the 32nm Sandy Bridge being shrunk down to become the 22nm Ivy Bridge. In the shops, the new processors are being labelled "third-generation Core i" by Intel.
When Intel announced Ivy Bridge, I knew it was just a matter of time before Mr Postie would drop a package on the doorstep with some new Core i goodness in it. The parcel contained a DZ77GA-70K motherboard and a nice new shiny Core i7-3770K to plug into it.
The i7-3770K is the flagship of Intel's Ivy Bridge desktop range and as such is the replacement for the very popular Sandy Bridge Core i7-2700K part.
Like the 2700K, the 3770K is a quad-core design capable of processing eight threads thanks to HyperThreading. It has 8MB of "Smart" cache memory and is clocked at 3.5GHz which, with the aid of Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, can be upped to 3.9GHz on the fly.
Ivy Bridge in CPU-Z: at stock speed (left) and overclocked to 4.7GHz (right)
Click for larger images
Notice the 'K' at the end of the product name? It’s an important letter that, meaning CPU comes with its multipliers unlocked which means one thing: easier overclocking.
Next page: What's the frequency, Kenneth?
I have to say since the advent of dual cores I've struggled to justify subsequent CPU upgrades.
If I was brutally honest I could still be getting by fine with my old Opteron 180.
My main laptop uses just a CULV Intel 1.3Ghz dual core in it.
I find I go longer and longer between upgrades. I haven't paid more than £100 for a new CPU in years. The last one cost £60.
Unless you are looking for a cure for cancer, transcoding video all day or just love wasting your life with pointless synthetic benchmarks for bragging rights, most folks don't need to either.
When compared to Sandy Bridge, yes. But whilst Intel are unquestionably occupying the top of the performance tower, cheaper apartments further down, are all being sold by AMD. How much of what most people do day to day is CPU bound and how much by disk or graphics? AMD can't compete with Intel in the arena of Who Has The Highest Numbers, but with their new combined GPU-CPUs, they are absolutely taking the crown in the Does What I Want For Significantly Less arena.
I think Intel know this. If AMD foundries could actually keep up with demand, they'd be the default for most of the of new tablet, netbook and laptop designs right now. Low power, built in Radeon graphics and good performance (just not elite performance like Intel's headline grabbers). And their parallisation is good which keeps them in the server market too.
Ivy Bridge does run cooler at stock settings, but I am surprised there was no mention of the heat when over-clocked.
...from a i7 920 to a 3770K and, for my purposes, it a great upgrade. Benchmark rendering in 3dsmax gave me a 388% performance increase. If you're upgrading from Sandy Bridge may it may not be worth it but if you skipped that then I'd recommend.
One thing I wasn't expecting was the power usage. I used to have an "intelligent" powerstrip that would switch off all the peripherals when my machine went to sleep. Now when the machine is idle it doesn't draw enough power to trigger the other sockets.......
Re: MHz madness
I'm not an overclocking fanmyself, but there's no denying that a CPU running at 20% higher MHz can do 20% more calculations in a given time, which is after all the core purpose of a processor.
Whether or not you can actually make use of this depends what you do with your PC. For gaming the bottleneck is almost always the graphics card rather than the CPU, but for more 'workstation' type loads such as rendering or video encoding upping the multiplier will most definitely result in more stuff getting done in the same time.
Not sure what you're on about when you're talking about 'how fast you can feed the CPU', you seem to be suggesting there is some sort of motherboard/bus-related bottleneck which is just plain wrong.