Intel Core i3-3217U

Intel comes out with new processors at a fairly predictable pace.  The latest are the so called "Ivy Bridge" parts, which are the die shrink to the 22 nm lithography process.  This latest chip is known for its more robust integrated graphics, HD 4000 in the faster form.  I recently was looking for benchmarks on the Core i3-3217U chip, and could find little written specific to this processor.  It seems that the faster chips get more of the attention, while the more pedestrian gear is quietly launched.

The Core i3-3217U is a mobile part found in affordable notebooks.  The above CPU-Z screenshot points out some of its features, including the 3 megs of on die cache.  It is a dual core chip, with a respectable (at least for mobile) clock speed of 1.8 GHz maximum.  While the Core i3 series of chips does not feature Turbo Core technology, it does have hyperthreading which can help on some applications.  Of note, the chip is so new that even with the latest version of CPU-Z, it gets listed as a Core i5 processor, which is a mistake.  Finally, the Core i3-3217U only uses a 17 W of power, far less than most gear.

It is not easy to figure out how much faster chips are getting compared to years ago as the major sites generally only test against the last generation of processors.  To counteract that, I have put together an "Open source benchmark suite" that I routinely run on computer hardware.  It tests the processor performance, and not the graphics.

We can see that in the HyperPi results, the 3217U is close to the Core2Duo E4500, which is a desktop part, and only a little slower than the AMD Phenom II 945 quad core, but one must realize that this benchmark historically has favored the Intel gear over the AMD parts.  HyperPi, the optimized for multicore version of SuperPi (a pure single core computational benchmark), still is a better measure of single core performance than multicore.

In the Fritz Chess benchmark, the 3217U keep pace with the AMD X2 5200+, as well as the Core 2 Duo E4500.  This is impressive as it has a considerably slower clock speed than either of those processors, and is also a mobile part, while the other two are desktop processors.  The 3217U also handily bests all the other mobile proceessors on the chart.  Fritz chess is a good measure of multicore performance, and the hyperthreading clearly gives the 3217U a leg up on this test.

The 7-Zip test is also a good measure of multicore performance.  Here, the 3217U pulls ahead of everything but the quad core parts, and the Core 2 Duo E8400, which was the last Core 2 Duo part released with a quick 3 GHz clock speed, and a generous 6 megs of cache.  It is also impressive that it lost to the E84oo by not much.

The Passmark result is provided for reference, but I did not run it myself.  Of note, the 3217U is quite close to the E8400 once again.

WPrime is a multicore computational benchmark.  While this test is not run on all the chips, the 3217U is once again behind the desktop quad core parts, and only a little behind the E8400.

What is impressive to me is that if we look at the closest processor, the E8400, it runs on 65 W, while the new Core i3 3217U sips a mere 17 W.  The only other processor on the chart that runs within such a slim power envelope is the 330UM, a first generation Core i3, and it falls handily behind the third generation 3217U.  While Moore's Law may run out at some point, for the time being, the performance of the Core i3 3217U is quite strong, and equally impressive is the low power it operates in. 

Reviewed by Jonas

Overall Grade: A


tandy said...

really thanks for this overview; I was just searching a comparison between the actual desktop pc I use at work (E8400) and the i3 in order to choose a notebook wtih a minimum level of computation capabilities to work at home!!!!

digitaldoc said...

I continue to like this processor, and I can assure you that it functions much better than at a minimum level. It really has a lot of performance given the 17 W thermal envelope.