Intel’s Ivy Bridge Processors: The Most Energy Efficient CPU’s Yet
Computers are unarguably a lot better now than their earlier 20th century counterparts. They can process information faster, do parallel commands and calculations easier, and can multitask heavy duty programs without overloading its RAM (at least not too much).
Most importantly however, computers today only consume a very small fraction of the original power consumption rate of older units. After the first decade of the 21st century, it is no longer difficult to assemble good performance desktop PC’s that are capable of consuming around 100 watts or so.
A large part of this improvement in energy efficiency is in the computer’s CPU. Intel, in their attempt to further increase the energy efficiency of their processors, plan to introduce the ultra-low power Ivy Bridge series as early as the end of April just this year.
What are Ivy Bridge Processors?
The term “Ivy Bridge” is actually the codename for the 22 nm (nanometer) die shrink design version of the older 2nd generation i3, i5 and i7 processors (Sandy Bridge). For those who have been looking up specifications of laptops and desktops for the past few years, you may already have heard of these three major processor product lines from Intel. (For those who don’t know, there’s always an introductory course here) The specialty of this processor is the use of the superbly energy efficient 3D tri-gate transistors, which allows the new processors to use up a lot less energy for the same number of digital processes or calculations.
The 2nd generation i3, i5 and i7 processors, which were first commercially released around January 2011, featured a 32nm flat design that uses planar double-gate transistors. While it featured numerous upgrades from the 1st generation (Nehalem) processors including increased energy efficiency, Ivy Bridge processors further enhanced whatever they could improve by around 25-40%.
Again, the most important feature that Ivy Bridge processors have, and the one that warrants its place in the field of green technology, is the already mentioned superb rate of energy efficiency. Let us do a simple comparison to make it simpler to understand. The i3-2120, one of the best 2nd generation processors at the entry level can perform almost just as good as a 1st generation i5-760 (a mid-level quad core processor), with a even a 30% reduction in its energy cost. An Ivy Bridge processor at the same level (i3-3240) is expected to perform quite better, further lowering down its energy cost by almost 50% of the original 1st generation performance counterpart.
How can it help my computers?
If you plan on buying a work laptop or want to build a new desktop computer that uses Intel Ivy Bridge processors, then you’ll want to know the exact energy benefits it can provide. For laptops, Ivy Bridge processors help extend its battery life, as shown by some of the mainstream ultrabook models out there. For desktops, when used in tandem with other energy efficient components, Ivy Bridge processors can help you create a sufficiently powerful unit that only has the energy cost of a standard-sized electric fan.
As of now, only the mobile versions and quad-core processors of the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture have been commercially released. The release of the Ivy Bridge i3 (dual-core) models is still to be set around September 2012, so we would still have to wait before we can see just how practically low the energy consumption of assembled units can be.
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