Intel may have had to swallow a bitter pill with Larrabee but it is coming back with a vengeance courtesy of Sandy Bridge; the chip architecture, which has been unveiled a short while ago, will be the one giving Nvidia and AMD a serious headache.
Build on 32nm (and soon on 22nm), Sandy Bridge brings both the CPU and the GPU on a single piece of silicon, a move similar to AMD's Fusion project, this not only increases the bandwidth available for both elements but also reduces power dissipation dramatically.
Early figures show that the new architecture will cut power usage during HD video playback by half using a new power saving model called HUGI (Hurry Up and Get idle) and adopting some power management tricks from CPUs.
To make things even more interesting, Intel will also allow the GPU to access the onchip ultra high speed cache and make use of the new Super Turbo Boost feature to overclock it for short periods.
Intel stated that its new graphics engine will be 25 times faster than the one used back in 2006 which we believe was the GMA X3000 models. Expect it to come with Shader Model 4.0, DirectX 10.1 and Open CL 1.1 compatibility with DirectX 11 compatibility coming with Ivy Bridge.
Sandy Bridge might not be as powerful as entry level parts from either AMD or Nvidia but the fact that it raises performance at the very bottom segment of the market might convince system builder to bypass discrete graphics units altogether.