Sandy Bridge vs Ivy Bridge: 6 Differences You Need To Know

Intel is known for its constant innovations, especially when it comes to its processors. As exciting as it is to learn about all these new and improved elements when it comes to choosing between two versions, it can be rather conflicting. 

When choosing a processor, there are many factors to take into consideration apart from the price. This is exactly why we’ve decided to define both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors and do all the necessary research for you.

We will go through the Sandy Bridge vs Ivy Bridge comparison in detail, so you can make an informed decision for your purchase.

What is Sandy Bridge?

Sandy Bridge is a processor launched by Intel back in 2011, also known as the “second generation” processor. It is safe to say that Sandy Bridge revolutionized the market and set new standards, at least when it comes to Intel’s assortment.

Sandy Bridge was indeed a significant upgrade from Westmere and Nehalem, including a number of changes such as single-core performance, the ability to overclock, as well as overall efficiency. 

Sandy Bridge kept some of the main features, such as the Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 monikers in all their models. However, the upgraded, integrated GPU was a major change that made the Sandy Bridge series stand out.

Each of the mentioned integrated processors (i3, i5, and i7) offers a clock speed rate of 1.6 GHz-3.3 GHz, advanced video coding and encoding features, L3 cache, as well as 1.3 GHz GPU speed. 

In addition to this update, Sandy Bridge also offers Turbo Boost innovations, improved graphic performance, video algorithm optimization, as well as new and improved AVX instructions.

As compared to Intel’s previous release, Nehalem, Sandy Bridge has increased performance by 11.3%. On the other hand, the power consumption was decreased by 5%, which makes Sandy Bridge a much more reliable option.

As you can already tell, Sandy Bridge was a significant step towards an improved user experience in all areas, including the structure. Intel incorporated small process nodes and improved the overall structure of this processor in every possible way. 

With Sandy Bridge, Intel also introduced a brand new technology known as hyperthreading (HT), which allows for the core to operate completely independently if necessary, thanks to the microprocessors consisting of multiple cores. 

What is Ivy Bridge?

Introduced in 2011, Ivy Bridge was Intel’s attempt to improve, enhance, and shrink Sandy Bridge. When it comes to innovations, Ivy Bridge was Intel’s first release with tri-gate transistors.

While Sandy Bridge was a second-generation processor, Ivy Bridge, as an improved version, was referred to as the third generation of Intel processors, for both mobile and desktop.

When it comes to server-class processors, Ivy Bridge is known as Xeon E3 v2, Xeon E5 v2, and Xeon E7 v2, depending on the version. 

Since the microprocessor architecture of Ivy Bridge was supposed to be the improved version of the previously released Sandy Bridge, Intel introduced the tri-gate (also known as 3-D) transistors as the main and crucial difference between the two

This innovative technology offers improved electron flow, which basically takes the performance of the processor to a whole new level. What’s more, the Ivy Bridge processor has improved computing and graphical features.

Since Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are fully interchangeable, it wasn’t hard for the users to make the transition. It is possible to install Ivy Bridge processors even on motherboards specifically designed for Sandy Bridge thanks to backward-compatible processor design.

Another important fact about Ivy Bridge processors is that they are much more energy-efficient than Sandy Bridge processors, as they generally consume less power.

What’s more, Ivy Bridge processors offer unmatched versatility, as they can easily be installed in a wide range of devices, from heavy-duty enterprise servers to handheld devices.

Ivy Bridge also offers better management of the current flow on all three channel sides, as opposed to planar transistors which only control it from the top. 

As a result, the current flow can be increased to the maximum when there’s a heavy load, while it can also be completely minimized when it’s off, which reduces any leakage significantly.

Designers of Ivy Bridge also thought of security when designing these next-generation processors. The security factor was significantly improved with the addition of Intel Secure Key, which keeps your data safe through encryption.

Another important addition to this concept is the Intel OS Guard, also known as Supervisor Mode Execution Protection (SMEP), designed to protect the users against malware and viruses by blocking any attempts of hackers to take over the user’s system.

What is the difference between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge?

Just from our introductions of each of these processor series, it is clear that Ivy Bridge is an improved version of Sandy Bridge. However, this doesn’t mean that Sandy Bridge isn’t worth your money, or that it is inferior in every single aspect.

When investing in a new processor, you may not be as interested in the areas Intel improved with their Ivy Bridge release, and for some users, Sandy Bridge CPUs may be the best choice.

However, others will fixate on the many improvements made with Ivy Bridge and will choose to go with the upgraded version. Either way, our detailed comparison will definitely make it easier for you to choose between Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge.

1. Innovations

When you think about it, it is only understandable for the new version to bring many innovations and be improved as opposed to the previous one. In this case, it is safe to say that Ivy Bridge is the improved version of Sandy Bridge.

First and foremost, Ivy Bridge uses tri-gate transistors which represents the biggest change Intel introduced through this series. Overall, Ivy Bridge is considered to be more powerful, but it still preserves energy.

Ivy Bridge also offers many upgrades when it comes to the management of the current flow, as well as the security aspects. Therefore, if you’re familiar with Sandy Bridge and you’re looking for an improved version, Ivy Bridge is certainly the answer.

2. Tri-gate transistor

Tri-gate transistor is something Sandy Bridge users weren’t able to experience, as it was introduced through the Ivy Bridge series of processors. What does this mean and why does it make Ivy Bridge more dominant?

By implementing all three dimensions, Intel also increased the transistor density, which allows for the current flow to be controlled on the top, left, and right sides of the channel. 

Sandy Bridge, on the other hand, does not offer as much versatility, as the current flow can only be managed from the top. In this case, the control of the transistors is limited, as opposed to the management system Ivy Bridge series offers.

By having complete control over the current flow, Ivy Bridge processors also offer optimal energy distribution. This means the current flow is maximized for high performance, but also minimized to prevent leakage when the load is low.

Not only does the tri-gate transistor system save energy and increase it when necessary, but it also increases overall performance by optimizing total drive strength.

3. Performance

When it comes to the overall performance rate, as we mentioned you can definitely expect an improved performance from Ivy Bridge. However, users who had the opportunity to try both options haven’t necessarily reported any groundbreaking changes.

Therefore, when it comes to this aspect, if you don’t tend to go into details, you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge.

4. Energy

Energy usage, on the other hand, is an aspect that was largely improved when it comes to Ivy Bridge, and the difference is definitely remarkable. Ivy Bridge, without a doubt, requires less energy to operate, even when the load is rather heavy.

What’s more, the tri-gate system we mentioned previously allows for the processor to fully control the current flow, maximizing the energy when necessary, but also minimizing it when it’s off.

The amount of leaked energy with Ivy Bridge is therefore significantly smaller than with Sandy Bridge, also thanks to the addition of die shrinks.

5. Graphics

This is yet another area absolutely dominated by the Ivy Bridge processors since Intel worked on improving both the functionality and speed of DX11 capabilities.

While Sandy Bridge processors did offer a completely redesigned and improved video system, the improvements made in Ivy Bridge graphics provide much more quality when it comes to graphics.

6. Turbo boost mode

Another important difference between the two choices is that Ivy Bridge offers an improved turbo boost, meaning that the processors offer immediate response even with heavy-duty programs and applications.

With turbo boost mode, the clock speed of both graphics unit and processor cores is significantly increased, even with increased load. Turbo boost mode can increase the speed up to 40%, which is a rather significant upgrade. 

Are Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge the same?

Coming from the same manufacturer, these two processor series certainly have a lot in common. However, when it comes to their comparison, you will notice that the scale often tips in favor of the Ivy Bridge series, which is no wonder since it is an improved version.

When it comes to general performance, many users reported that they found no significant differences between the two options. However, if we were to go into heavy detail, it is certain that Sandy Bridge processors offer better performance.

When it comes to innovations, it is safe to say that Ivy Bridge encompasses all the positive sides of Sandy Bridge, many of which were upgraded – including the current flow management, as well as the energy management.

By introducing a tridimensional transistor system, Intel revolutionized its assortment of processors, opening the door to a faster, more efficient, high-quality experience for its users.

We also have to mention the significant improvement when it comes to graphics quality, as well as the turbo boost mode which won’t let you down even when the load is high and you’re using some power-hungry programs.

In conclusion, Ivy Bridge does deserve the title of the new and improved version of Sandy Bridge. However, this doesn’t mean that Sandy Bridge won’t fulfill your expectations if you’re willing to compromise in certain areas.

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