The three most widely used processors in the notebooks in 2011 so far has been the Pentium B940, Core i3-2310M and the Core i5-2410M – all of them belonging to the Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture – the latest architecture debuting in first quarter of 2011. There has been some significant improvement in the processing capabilities of the integrated graphics. The CPU performance per clock cycle has improved marginally – of the order of 10% to 15%.
Intel has attempted to keep the Pentium brand name by launching a stripped down version of the Sandy Bridge processor. We do not know what Intel gains by removing some of the features and branding the Pentium. The main difference we see in the Pentium B940 as compared to the Core i3-2310M is the lack of the Hyperthreading ( besides, of course, the slightly lower clock frequency). This should lead to slight decrease in performance in the scenario where 4 processes can take advantage of the hyperthreading – assuming the software running have rooms whereby the second process and take advantage of the idle time.
The Pentium B940 is clocked at 2.0 GHz and is a dual core processor. It has been launched subsequent to the mainstream second generation core i3 and core i5 processors.
Like the mainstream Sandy Bridge processors, the Pentium B940 retains the Integrated DDR3 memory controller.
If your notebook has the Pentium B940 or if you are planning to buy one that will have one – it will have decent performance. It will not be a cutting edge notebook, but will be better than most of the Apple’s notebooks being launched these days. If performance is your criteria, we suggest you take a look at the Core i5-2410M – it will have close to 30% performance improvement and will not cost significantly higher.
If you however compare Pentium B940 with the earlier Arrandale based Pentium processors ( Pentium P6100 , 2 GHz for example), then B940 has 10 to 15% advantage in the CPU performance, even though, both of them have the same clock frequency. However, the B940 has a much better integrated graphics performance as compared to the Pentium P6100. From the system manufacturer’s perspective, this should lead to simplified design and a lower overall system cost, as they do not need to integrate another graphics chip in the system. The system designers also benefit from the the integrated memory controller. The communication with the chipset is using fast differential DMI Bus.
So if you are looking at the motherboard design complexity, the things are highly simplified than they were a decade ago. Remember the Core 2 Duo processor based design ? They had a complex processor to north bridge wide bus – that could have serious ground bounce and cross talk issues. Then the north bridge to south bridge connection, and finally a PCI Bus. This was a nightmare for the Signal Integrity expert.
Fast forward, in 2011 – the system design is highly simplified thanks to the universal adoption of the differential bus – of which AMD was actually the pioneer long ago with its HyperTransport bus. The only complex area is the DDR3 and if the system designers follow the design guidelines, do their homework and system simulation – the only are they need to focus are the differential bus – the DMI Bus, the PCI Express and the USB 3.0.
Table : Intel Pentium B940 Features and Specs
|Feature||Intel Pentium B940|
|Core Frequency||2.0 GHz|
|No. Of Cores||2 ( No Hyperthreading)|
|Cache Organization||2 MB L3|
|Turbo Frequency||No Turbo|
|TDP Rating||35 Watts|
|64 Bit Support||Y|
|Integrated Memory Controller||DDR3-1333|
|Integrated Graphics||Yes, 650 MHz Base, 1.1 GHz Max|
Table : Intel Pentium B940 Benchmarking
|Benchmarks||Intel Pentium B940|
|Super Pi 2M (Lower in better)||Not available|
|3D Mark 06 CPU||Not available|
|Windows 7 Experience Score||Not available|