Expected to launch in the second quarter of 2012, Intel's Ivy Bridge processors have already made their way into the hands of several hardware enthusiasts, and one such user has recently posted a series of benchmarks that compare an upcoming Ivy Bridge CPU with Intel's Core i3-2100 and i3-530 chips.
The processor used is actually an Ivy Bridge engineering sample that sports two processing cores with support for Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, 4MB of Level 3 cache and a base clock speed of 2.3GHz.
This is fabricated using Intel's new Tri-Gate 22nm manufacturing process, and was compared against a current 32nm Sandy Bridge chip, the Core i3-2100, as well as against a Core i3-430 CPU based on the Westmere architecture.
In order to keep the comparison fair, both Core i3 chips were underclocked to the base frequency of their Ivy Bridge counterpart and were paired with an AMD Radeon HD 6570 graphics card, which helped keep the on-board GPUs out of the equation.
As expected, the tests provided mixed results, as the Ivy Bridge processor and the Sandy Bridge chip exchanged their lead depending on the benchmarks run, but, overall, Intel's next-generation CPU managed to outperform its 32nm counterpart.
Power consumption was one of the most noteworthy scenarios in which Ivy Bridge had to admit defeat, but its low energy efficiency was most likely caused by inactive power gating mechanisms.
In addition, we should also take into consideration the fact that this is just an engineering sample CPU and that the final design may still receive some minor tweaks until it reaches retail in March/April 2012.
Ivy Bridge is the code name used for the 22nm die shrink of the current Sandy Bridge architecture and features basically the same design, but with a few minor improvements.
Among the most important of these is the introduction of a new DirectX 11 capable graphics core, that includes 30% more EUs than Sandy Bridge, as well as the support for the PCI Express 3.0 standard.