PC enthusiasts just had one of their most action-packed weeks since a long time. All prominent players in the space are out of the gate with new products, refreshes, and advancements in computing. The technology alone is enough to pop the eyes of any PC enthusiast.
Moreover, apart from the cutting edge advancements in technology, there is also a higher focus on the lower price points by the underdog, AMD. The back-and-forth between the two players in the CPU space forms the crux of why it is so exciting to be a PC enthusiast today.
AMD’s Leapfrog Strategy
The CPU battle has heated up vastly, and not just at the top-end where most of the competition is. Newer processor advancements have allowed AMD to compete at a market price point where Intel simply cannot match its performance.
At the beginning of the week, AMD announced the launch of the Ryzen 3000 series of chips. Built on the famed 7nm manufacturing process, the new chips operate at a lower voltage while being more efficient, offering a sizeable performance increase over bigger chips.
They also announced a new socket (X570) and a whole new lineup of motherboards for optimal compatibility with the new chips. It is also to be noted that these chips are still backward compatible with the existing AM4 sockets, except the older ones will not be compatible with some of the new features that the new chips bring to the table.
Primary among them is the support for the next generation of the Peripheral Component Interconnect – Express. This standard, commonly referred to a PCI-Express, connects almost everything on the computer to each other, including storage, GPUs and other ASICs. With PCIe Gen.4, data transfers and GPU read and write speeds will be greatly increased.
A New Chapter In Intel Vs. AMD
Apart from handily beating one of Intel’s top-of-the-line i9 chips, Ryzen 3000’s flagship processor is also priced at less than half its price. AMD has begun taking over a part of the market which Intel has neglected in lieu of better higher-end offerings with more bells and whistles.
At the price point of the highest-end AMD processor, which is priced at around $500, Intel (currently) sells the i7-9700K and i5-9600K processors. These are Ryzen 3000’s direct competitors at the top-end. If the top-end processor can punch above its weight class into the i9 series, the lower-end offerings can easily handle the challenge from the i5 and i9 Intel chips.
This is the first time in a long time where AMD has taken the lead over Intel in IP and associated infrastructures. The reason for this can be seen as Intel’s wavering focus towards CPUs owing to other enterprise and enthusiast-focused offerings. Intel’s 9th Gen Core series is still built on the 12nm process, a whole two steps behind AMD.
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Not to be outdone, Intel released the details of the 10th Gen Core series, which would be built on the 10nm process. Intel has sorely needed this advancement to occur, as their ‘Intel Inside’ brand has been undercut both by recurrent hardware vulnerabilities and a general plateau in performance.
Moreover, AMD is beginning to take on what was previously an absolute Intel monopoly; the laptop market. AMD’s laptop offerings, in the form of APUs, had been sorely lacking before the launch of Ryzen. Now, with specialized chips for low-powered laptops, AMD is also taking on Intel in the portables market as well.
Intel, recognizing the potential loss of market share, is now looking to strategize the use of their 10nm process Core CPUs in laptops.
This strategy is set to culminate in the release of a completely new type of laptops altogether. At the crux of wanting to take back market share, Intel has initiated a standard that they are calling ‘Project Athena’.
Project Athena is the culmination of all the non-CPU tech Intel has been developing while AMD is innovating in better performance. With the cornerstones of ‘focus, always ready, adaptive’, Project Athena is the name for a new form factor and type of laptops.
The standard sets rules for laptop manufacturers for the connected future. Primary among them is the ability to lucid sleep and sign in within 1 second using biometric authentication. The laptops also need to come with 8GB of RAM and an NVMe SSD for fast storage.
There is also a heightened focus on better battery life and the integration of Intel technologies such as Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, OpenVINO and more. At the core of all of this will be Intel’s new high-performance, low-powered 10th Gen Core processors.
This space is moving towards more computing power and advancements over frills that offer no performance increase. This is a healthy trend for the PC market, which is an exciting time for anyone, across any price range.
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