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Sandy Bridge: More Options for Less Juice with New Super Processor

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Monday, May 16th, 2011

As reported in The Australian IT: IT’S Israeli developed, and capable of receiving a poisoned pill that will disable your computer. So what the heck is Sandy Bridge and why have it?

Sandy Bridge is the buzzword of the year for the frontline of Intel computer architecture released on to the market on January 9.

Its birth wasn’t smooth. Within a month, Intel had to address a hardware hiccup involving defective chipsets on Sandy Bridge’s accompanying motherboards. This episode cost Intel an estimated $US1 billion ($929 million) to fix.

With that completed, most manufacturers are now rolling out Sandy Bridge processors in new desktops and notebooks. Last week, Hewlett-Packard and Apple became the latest to do so.

At the consumer end, Apple announced new 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions of its all-in-one iMac, starting at $1399 and $1949 respectively. All have quad-core Intel Core chips (i5 or i7) with Sandy Bridge architecture, as does its new line of MacBook Pros.

HP meanwhile announced high-end workstations optionally with Sandy Bridge: the HP Z210 in both mini-tower and small-form-factor desktop configurations starting at $1499, and new 14.5-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch EliteBook Mobile Workstations from $3299.

So what’s special about Sandy Bridge, poisoned pills and Haifa, Israel? Israel is one of Intel’s major development sites and the Sandy Bridge project developed there originally was called Gesher, which in Hebrew means “bridge”.

Gesher is an archeological site in the central Jordan Valley of Israel, a kibbutz, but unfortunately also the name of a failed 1996 breakaway from the Likud Party. So Intel in its wisdom decided Gesher must go, and after talks with trademark officials, Sandy Bridge was the name instead.

Intel Australia and New Zealand technical manager Graham Tucker said Sandy Bridge brought together a series of computing functions on to one processor. It included not only several cores that provide a device’s computing grunt, but also importantly its graphics and media processing on one die. The memory controller and last-level cache (LLC), the largest memory cache of a processor, also were included.

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