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Yeah, yeah, the iPad is here, and a lot of the rumors about it were right. Yadda yadda yadda. Let's start talking about something really exciting: the upcoming launch of Intel's Ivy Bridge. Unfortunately, most (but not all) of the news for that platform has also fallen solidly into the "rumor" category, but now we have some hard stats to see how Ivy stacks up to Sandy. While we were busy playing Mass Effect 3, Anand Lal Shimpi was busy procuring and benchmarking a Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge proc -- and sharing the results with the world.
Anand's not telling how he got his hands on the chip, but he does say that the preview "was not sanctioned or supported by Intel in any way." He delves deep into tech specs in his 18 page (p)review, but here's the Cliffs Notes version: the CPU gains are a modest 5 to 15 percent, but Intel's integrated HD 4000 graphics boast a big 20 to 50 percent increase over current Sandy Bridge graphics in a series of gaming benchmarks.
The chip plays virtually any game -- even Metro 2033 -- well at low resolutions and graphics settings, but Ivy Bridge even manages to rock over 50fps at 1680x1050 in Crysis:Warhead. The integrated graphics in AMD's A8-series Llano APU still outshined Ivy Bridge in all of Anand's tests, however, and that margin will undoubtedly only increase once the new Trinity chips come around.
The power savings were also fairly significant. Thoughts? Based on Anand's initial numbers, Ivy Bridge seems like a big step forward for notebooks and other mobile devices, but will a slight CPU bump, a big GPU bump and some power savings sway you into upgrading your desktop PC? (Which, if you're graphically inclined, probably already has a discrete graphics card installed.) One thing's almost for certain: discrete low end cards may go the way of the Dodo if AMD and Trinity keep stepping up their integrated GPU game.