Recognizing the top processor products of 2011, industry analyst firm The Linley Group today announced the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor (code-name Sandy Bridge) is winner of their first annual Analysts’ Choice Award for Best PC Processor. “Benchmark scores from enthusiast sites such as Anandtech.com show that Core i7 versions of Sandy Bridge handily held the high ground in performance and performance/watt against AMD’s FX and Llano processors,” said Senior Analyst Kevin Krewell.
In another nod to Intel, The Linley Group noted that the initial prototype for the “Analysts’ Choice Award for Best Technology of 2011” – Micron’s Hybrid Memory Cube – was developed in collaboration with Intel Labs researchers, who paired the cube with an extremely energy efficient, high-bandwidth memory interface. This type of 3D memory stacking was envisioned in Intel’s Tera-scale research program more than five years ago (see AnandTech’s 2007 article) as a key capability to feed data to many-core chips as core counts scale from 10s to 100s.
And dubbing 2011 “Intel’s Innovative Year,” the January 23, 2012 Microprocessor Report mentions other noteworthy Intel 2011 technologies:
- Intel Tri-gate transistors – the first non-planar transistors in the industry in production, and likely several years ahead of Intel’s competitors. Under development for over a decade, tri-gate transistors provide an unprecedented combination of performance and energy efficiency. They usher in the next era of Moore’s Law and open the door to a new generation of innovations across a broad spectrum of products. Tri-gate transistors will first appear in Intel’s soon-to-be-launched 22nm Ivy Bridge processors.
- The Intel® AVX2 instruction set (for the upcoming Haswell processor) and its potential to dramatically accelerate Floating Point (FP) intensive workloads. Intel AVX2 will improve performance with wider vectors, new extensible syntax, and rich functionality in areas such as image, audio/video processing, scientific simulations, financial analytics and 3D modeling and analysis
- Thunderbolt™ Technology, with origins in Intel Labs, was developed to address the challenge of moving ever-growing amounts of data in and around Intel Platforms. Already deployed across Apple’s line of computers, this technology will also be available on Windows-based Ultrabooks later in 2012, similar to those demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year.
- Near-Threshold Voltage (NTV) technology, which could enable processors to reach 5-10x the energy-efficiency of what’s possible today through creative circuit techniques that allow chips to run at much lower voltages than previously possible. Intel CTO Justin Rattner demonstrated how this could even enable solar-powered processors, an inspiring concept especially as digital intelligence is embedded into more and more everyday devices and sensors in our environment. For high-performance applications, NTV could enable chips composed of many (eventually 100s to 1000s) of low-voltage cores packing a collective performance per watt that far exceeds today’s technology.