Sandy Bridge CPUs can turbo boost all four cores
Intel’s new “Second Generation Core Processors” — codenamed Sandy Bridge — can bump up the clock speed on all the cores not just one.
Intel’s current Westmere generation CPUs — the Core i3/i5/i7 in the market at the moment — have “Turbo” technology in the i5 and i7 models already. The idea behind it is that if you have a multicore CPU but you’re running software that’s not making use of multi-core processing the CPU will boost the clock speed of a single core and shut off the other (unused) cores.
However the first generation of Turbo boost only bumped the speed of a single core in order to manage the maximum heat output of the chip — the faster the clock-speed the hotter the chip gets and the more difficult it is for computers to excrete the heat before components get damaged (or start running in slower modes to protect themselves.)
Now with the new Sandy Bridge generation of CPUs Intel says it can boost the speed on all four cores — or even the integrated graphics core depending on where the demand in the system is coming from.
This does mean that the chip’s maximum heat output will exceed the official Intel-stated TDP (thermal design power) however in terms of heat output Intel says computer makers need only to design against the official TDP figure as the chip will have enough intelligence to manage heat output even though it will variably boost its power consumption.
If this proves to be true in practice the Sandy Bridge processors should provide significant performance gains for both single-threaded and multi-threaded software while being able to drop back to their “advertised” speed — and lower — when the software isn’t taxing the CPU which will result in battery life that’s not dissimilar to current generation Core chips.