What’s so great about Intel’s Sandy Bridge?

Intel’s latest generation of processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge, was recently released to huge acclaim. Clive Webster investigates what all the fuss was about.

Intel's latest range of processors shows a significant change in Intel's approach to computing, as its latest Sandy Bridge processor architecture has been engineered for laptops. A few years ago, describing a processor as for laptops' would have been a polite way to say it was pointlessly slow or extortionately priced. However, this new range of processors is not only very power-frugal, but also very fast and yet reasonably priced. The only downside is determining a Sandy Bridge CPU from a previous-generation Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processor.

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Intel is (erroneously) referring to the Sandy Bridge range as its 2nd Generation Core processor, but we've had Intel CPUs branded as Core since early 2006 and have seen at least three new Core-branded CPU designs since then. Intel hopes that the 2nd Generation' tag differentiates the new range of Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors from the previous range.

Another way to spot a Sandy Bridge processor is that the model number is four digits long while previous-generation CPUs have three-digit model numbers. The final clue to finding a Sandy Bridge CPU is the new socket: LGA1155. It might sound less complex than the LGA1156 socket it essentially replaces, but it's a completely new (and incompatible) design. The LGA1156 range will continue as a cheaper option, however.

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