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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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How can Intel beat this?

28 May 2019

Wow, AMD seems to have delivered on expectations at the Computex trade show in Taipei yesterday.

AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su announced the new NAVI GPUs, the new Zen 2 Ryzen CPUs and the B570 motherboards designed to support them.

If they're everything that's claimed, Intel, and to a lesser degree NVIDIA, may have some catching up to do.

In the case of Intel, now that its higher-end processors have been crippled by yet another vulnerability which, this time, requires hyperthreading to be disabled as a mitigation strategy, the new Zen2-based Ryzen processors look like a major threat.

Not only are the Ryzen's around half the price (on a core-count basis) but, thanks largely to the 7nm process, they have stunningly low power requirements. Given that high thermals were one of the weaknesses of the previous generations of Ryzen, this is great news for AMD fanbois.

A claimed 15% increase in instructions per clock cycle means that the cores used by AMD now compare almost identically in terms of single-thread performance with Intel's cores.

According to the AMD keynote presentation at Computex, the top of the Ryzen 9 series will clock in at under US$500 for an astonishing 12 cores (24 threads) of processing power with the 9300X chip. Throw in a TDP of just 105W and one can't help but be impressed.

More good news... if you want one you'll only have to wait until early July.

If your needs are a little more modest then the 8-core (16 thread) 3700X will sell for around US$329 and the faster-clocked 3800X will be just US$399.

Then there's the inclusion of PCIE 4.0 to consider. This can significantly improve the speed of interface between the CPU and other system components leading to further "real world" performance gains.

Back to the CPUs for a moment though and you'll find that AMD have doubled the bandwidth to the FPU and delivered much larger internal caches, further improving the speed and efficiency of the total CPU package.

What's not to like?

And more importantly... how can Intel fight back?

You'd have to be a total Intel fanboi or a complete idiot to spend twice as much to buy an Intel CPU in the wake of this announcement -- what's the point?

It's starting to look as if there could be some interesting developments in the CPU marketplace and the winners will doubtless be the consumer.

As for the graphics side of things... the future is not quite so clear.

Although AMD talked about the NAVI family of Radeon GPUs, they showed only a small performance hike over the NVIDIA equivalent and pricing wasn't specified. If they can deliver RTX1070-level performance for half the price then that'd be great and NVIDIA could find themselves in a similar position to Intel. However, NVIDIA are already mounting something of a defence with a "smoke and mirrors" hint at something called "Super" -- which might simply be a slightly up-spec'd version of its existing RTX lineup. The company said nothing about "Super" at their Computex presentation either. If AMD do the "half price" thing with GPUs like they did with CPUs, even NVIDIA may be struggling to reply.

Happy days ahead!

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