May 052011

Sandy Bridge – Intel’s New Second Generation Core CPUs Series

Sandy Bridge is a code name for the second generation of 32 nm Intel Core series processors (CPUs) released in early 2011 with some initial delays. All Sandy Bridge processors have four digits beginning with number 2 in the Intel’s model designation. For example, Core i7-2630QM is a Sandy Bridge Intel quad core chip, while a chip without the number 2 and same remaining three digits and letters would be the older generation core i7 Arrandale CPU.

Advantages of Laptops with New Processors

Laptops with mobile Sandy Bridge processors offer great advantages for gamers and demanding users, starting with being almost as fast as their desktop counterparts.  As expected, compared to Arrandale (older Intel Core i laptop mobile chip), Sandy Bridge is more powerful, has better graphics, yet it is more power efficient and runs cooler.  Unlike its predecessor, it includes a new 256 bit AVX (Advanced Vector Extension) instruction set which adds more power to floating point calculations, allowing for better performance in 3D games, multi-media processing, encryption, scientific simulations and multi-core efficiency (when software is written to take advantage of these features).

In addition, Sandy Bridge processors are faster than their predecessors due to a faster, new version of a built-in GPU (graphics chip) which is now on a new ring bus with the CPU cores, and is also sharing the same fast level 3 cache with them.  An improved dual channel DDR3 memory controller is part of the processor and used by both GPU and CPU cores. Laptops with this new generation chip offer better performance especially for gamers and multi-media users.  

Huge Improvement on New Macs

Apple Mac users who upgrade to systems that include these new CPUs see the greatest improvements: the new 2011 MacBook Pro machines with Sandy Bridge processors are about twice faster than their older Intel Core 2 Duo models from 2010, which is a huge step up.   Apple laptops thus skipped the whole Arrandale mobile cpu generation and landed into the blazingly fast Intel Core 2nd generation, which makes it well worth upgrading any MacBook Pro.

Improved Battery Life

The most amazing results from recent tests show that the increased CPU speed and computing power is not causing any shorter battery life.   On the contrary, even quad core Sandy Bridge laptops show longer battery life than the previous similar models with Arrandale chip.

January 2011 Recall

Early 2011 a flaw has been discovered on some Sandy Bridge motherboards and about 8 million of them manufactured after January 9 were affected and recalled.  By this time Intel has replaced most of the defective ones and the only remaining units may be the early ones that already got to their new owners’ hands in January (the owners have multiple options available, including delayed replacement).  This recall caused delays with delivery and that’s why these great new 2nd gen laptops are hard to find and in high demand.

On most early Sandy Bridge laptops this flaw was not easily detected because it only appeared on some systems with SATA 2 connections number 2 and above (most laptops only have two, HD as number 0 and a CD/DVD or Blu-ray reader as number 1) and this didn’t affect the faster 6 Gb/s SATA 3 connections.  The affected SATA 2 ports were showing problems with deteriorating performance on some systems, but Intel still recalled all motherboards suspected to have this flaw.

Mistakes, bugs and flaws happen to everybody.  What distinguishes great manufacturers and organizations is the proper way of handling them.  Unlike some others who in the past tried to cover up their bugs or present them as a feature (remember the fiasco with antenna issues on a new fancy phone last year), Intel has once again shown exemplary handling of a flaw with transparency, good judgement, quick action, great customer care, putting their money where their mouth is and suppressing any long term bad publicity.

Since this recall was announced end of January 2011, most affected systems have been replaced and your chance of buying a brand new 2nd generation Core i3, i5 or i7 system with the flawed chipset is virtually zero.

List of Sandy Bridge Laptop CPUs

Below is a list of all second generation Core i (Sandy Bridge) Intel Laptop Processors. Remember the CPU model has to have a four digit model number starting with 2 to distinguish Sandy Bridge processors from their older Arrandale brothers (yes there are models that have absolutely identical designation except for the added first digit ‘2’ for the newer Sandy Bridge CPU).

Model number suffixes have the following meanings:
XM – Extreme quad-core mobile CPU with unlocked Turbo multipliers
QM – Quad-core mobile CPU
QE – Quad-core embedded mobile CPU
M – Mobile CPU
9M – Low power mobile CPU
7M – Ultra low power mobile CPU
E – Embedded mobile CPU

Core i7-2920XM (extreme quad core edition – unlocked)

Core i7-2655LE
Core i7-2610UE
Core i7-2620M
Core i7-2629M
Core i7-2649M
Core i7-2657M
Core i7-2617M
Core i7-2720QM
Core i7-2630QM
Core i7-2820QM
Core i7-2635QM
Core i7-2710QE
Core i7-2715QE

Core i5-2540M
Core i5-2520M
Core i5-2510E
Core i5-2515E
Core i5-2410M
Core i5-2537M

Core i3-2310M
Core i3-2310E

Here’s a link to search for Sandy bridge mobile CPUs at Intel’s website.

Good luck with your new Sandy Bridge laptop.

I closed my Amazon affiliate site for Sandy Bridge Laptops due to the recently signed Illinois tax bill that caused Amazon to terminate contract with all Illinois affiliates, what virtually destroyed all of us Amazon affiliates in our state. I merged the above text from several of my posts on my other website.

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