Electronic Design
An Embedded Sandy Bridge

An Embedded Sandy Bridge

Intel's 32nm second generation of Core processors, code named Sandy Bridge (Fig. 1), brings a number of chips to the embedded market. This includes extended 7 year lifecycle support. The seven new chips are split between the mobile, formally code named Huron River, (Fig. 2) and desktop, formally code named Sugar Bay, (Fig. 3) although their use in embedded applications is likely to be more varied. They have a TDP range from 35W to 95W with options such as ECC, built-in graphics and BGA packaging.

Processor Cores / Threads Base Frequency TDP Package ECC 1K Price
Mobile
Core i7-2710QE 4/8 2.1 GHz 45W FCPGA988 No $378
Core i7-2715QE 4/8 2.1 GHz 45W FCBGA1023 Yes $378
Core i5-2510E 2/4 2.5 GHz 35W FCPGA988 No $266
Core i5-2515E 2/4 2.5 GHz 35W FCBGA1023 Yes $266
Desktop
Core i7-2600 4/8 3.4 GHz 95W LGA1155 No $294
Core i5-2400 4/4 3.1 GHz 95W LGA1155 No $184
Core i3-2120 2/4 3.3 GHz 65W LGA1155 No $138

All the chips are multicore leaving single core solutions to the Intel Atom. Most are hyperthreaded as well doubling the number of active threads. The chips support the new technologies included in Sandy Bridge such as the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). The AVX technology will eventually scale to 1024 bits (see Intel's AVX Scales To 1024 bit Vector Math).

Likewise the chips support Intel's Turbo Boost technology. Turbo Boost allows a core to be pushed to the limit while keeping within system specified limits. These limits can include the number of active cores, the estimated current consumption, the estimated power consumption and the chip temperature.

Intel's VPro technology is also part of the mix. This incorporates a range of functionality but the one that embedded developers will be most interested in is the remote management support. This has been in use on the Xeon server class systems for awhile but now distributed embedded devices can take advantage of the features as well. Operations such as remote diagnostics and firmware updates can occur over the network. This is independent of the operating system and applications running on the chip.

Intel's Clear Video HD Technology is supported by the built-in graphics adapter on some of the platforms. The technology enhances visual quality and color fidelity. The Intel Quick Sync Video Technology complements the dipslay technology. It is designed to accelerate video encode, decode and transcode. It is twice as fast as the first generation chips. This is handy for teleconferencing as well as digital security and surveillance applications.

Dual channel 1066/1333 MHz DDR3 controllers are the norm as are PCI Express Gen 2 interfaces. The desktop chips have a x16 port for external video support. The other chips have 20 lanes that can be partitioned in a variety of ways.

The mobile processors with optional ECC support can be paired with the Intel QM67 Express and Intel HM65 Express chipsets. The other processors can work with the Intel Q67 Express and Intel B65 Express chipsets. The two are similar with analog VGA outputs as well as digital HDMI, DVI, Display Port and SDVO video outputs. High Definition Audio is also part of the mix along with 8 PCI Express x1 lanes and Gigabit Ethernet support. There are up to 14 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports and the SATA ports are split with a pair running at 6 Gbits/s and four running at 3 Gbits/s. The main difference is the 4 PCI bus master interfaces for the Intel Q67 Express and Intel B65 Express chipsets.

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