Sunday, September 8, 2013

[Article] Intel releases IvyBridge-E CPUs. Better late than never?

In English language, there is an idiom called "better late than never", but I'm not sure if you can call it relevant when it comes to the latest CPU release from Intel - the IvyBridge-E. There are few issues with this release which make it very unexciting.

Firstly, the IvyBridge-E is based on the IvyBridge architecture, which is not what the current generation of mainstream CPUs are based on. The current generation is Haswell and Intel's enthusiast CPU is one generation older than it. When Intel released the SandyBridge-E CPUs, the current generation was SandyBridge. Thus, this enthusiast CPU did not fall behind the mainstream CPUs in any test. It at least performed as fast as the top of mainstream CPUs. (Core i7 2600K back them). But now, the top of the line mainstream CPU is the Haswell Core i7 4770K which is faster than the fastest Enthusiast CPU in certain test - tests that don't make use of all 6 cores. That should not be the case.

Secondly, this is not a new platform. This is just a new CPU, which makes use of the previous X79 platform. That platform was already aging at its launch, and after two years, it is completely outdated. You only get two native SATA III ports, no native USB3.0 ports and the chipset is very power hungry. Of course the motherboard manufacturers are putting out refreshed boards, but they have to make use of the 3rd party controllers to at come close to what the current generation mainstream boards are offering feature wise. How hard was it for them to simply release an updated chipset for IB-E? One might be thankful that they don't have to change the motherboard, but the platform is missing a lot of oomph that came with Haswell, that number (of people) will be very low.

Thirdly, the CPUs don't overclock as well as we expected. IvyBridge didn't overclock well as well, but that because the die wasn't soldered to heatspreader. When delidded, they overclocked as well as SandyBridge. But IB-E's die is soldered. So it doesn't face the heat problem. But for some weird reason, it doesn't overclock as well as we expected. It's definitely not a temperature issue. That 22nm tech is giving any advantage over SandyBridge-E CPUs. However, the power consumption is less than the predecessor. Who cares, right? The second you say that you are going to overclock the CPU, you are giving up the privilege to whine about the power consumption.

Fourthly, you are not getting noticeable performance increase from upgrading to IB-E from SB-E. IB-E's advantage is only about 2-5%, which is even less than what Haswell has yielded. But if you are upgrading from a Nehalem 6-core CPU (such as the Core i7 970, 980x or 990x), then the performance increase is worth it, IMO. It's definitely not worth it for SB-E users, especially without any improvement in the platform. Haswell at least gave a new, better platform.

If you want to read an unbiased review, read the PC Perspective's review over here.

IMHO, Intel should have skipped IvyBridge-E and went for Haswell-E straight away. Or, they should have released it at least at the beginning of this year. It looks like Intel doesn't really care. I'm sure their biggest profits (total profits) come from the mainstream CPUs. While these Extreme Edition CPUs are quick lucrative, the number of enthusiasts living in this world is too few.
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