2010 CES: Intel
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Rutledge Feman
Date: 01-18-2010
Intel HD Graphics, Turbo Boost

Another first for Intel is integrating a graphics core directly on the processor, called Intel HD Graphics. In the photo above, the graphics core is on the right and the CPU is on the left. As the name suggests, the goal of Intel HD Graphics is to accomplish everyday tasks for the average consumer. Things like watching Blu-Ray movies, streaming HD content from the web and playing mainstream 3D games are all within the limits of this new integrated graphics core. One application that comes to mind is in a HTPC. Those into more hardcore gaming will likely want to bypass this new core and install a discrete video card for increased performance.

Turbo Boost

Turbo Boost is a new technology built into the new Core i5 and i7 processors (i3 does not feature Turbo Boost) designed to increase productivity and better manage workload.

As we know, there are still countless programs that are not multithreaded and therefore can't take advantage of multiple processor cores. With Turbo Boost, when your system is running an application that isn't multithreaded, the secondary core(s) of the processor effectively shut down and the primary working core(s) operating frequency is ramped up.

Below is a video of a representative describing Intel's Turbo Boost technology.

It was a bit loud on the show floor so I want to cover a few points that you may have missed or that didn't make it into the video.

As the rep mentioned, Turbo Boost isn't considered overclocking as the processor is still running within spec. Below is a list of criteria that set the upper limit for how high Turbo Boost can increase the clock frequency:

  • Number of active cores

  • Estimated current consumption

  • Estimated power consumption

  • Processor temperature

If the processor is operating below all of these guidelines and the work at hand requires more performance, the frequency will increase "on short and regular intervals until the upper limit is met or the maximum possible upside for the number of active cores is reached". It's also worth noting that Turbo Boost can and will kick in despite the number of active cores, meaning you could experience increased clock frequency even when all cores are being utilized, so long as the above criteria are still met.

We are in the process of building a new Core i5 test bench as we speak so expect plenty more from us on the i5 and Turbo Boost in the coming weeks.

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