AMD, Intel and Nvidia: the challenge for the PC market

AMD, Intel and Nvidia: the challenge for the PC market
Although deeply marked by the global pandemic, 2020 will also be remembered for the relaunch of space exploration, for the shocks in the global political balance and for the flare-up of the challenge between AMD, Intel and NVIDIA, starting with the usual direct confrontation on processors and GPUs to arrive at important strategic moves by companies ready to transform to face future challenges.

The flagship chips of 2020

2020 for the gaming PC world has started as a missile riding the lightning-fast 360Hz monitors, competitive screens NVIDIA helped create so that they have another ace up their sleeves with which to push the GeForce RTX 3000, with a combo release in September. In the meantime, moving on to the CPUs, Intel took the ball and launched the tenth generation processors by waving the 10-core, 20-thread Core i9-10900K, capable of reaching the insane 5.3GHz frequency. A speed, among other things, also reached by the Core mobile processors, decidedly snappy despite yet another revision of the production process. This was not, however, Intel's decisive move in 2020, but we will talk about this in the next paragraph.

First came the time for the mobile GeForce Super, another step forward in terms of efficiency in a year that saw NVIDIA continue to work with partners and competitors to lower the price and raise the attractiveness of laptops game. The same philosophy that seems to have animated the company during the launch of the Ampere GPUs, on paper much cheaper than the previous ones. Too bad for the availability of nothing that has raised the prices, but does not seem to have diminished the desire of the players to have one of the new GeForces, thanks to the optimization work done in the DLSS which is now able to compensate for the weight of ray tracing. All very attractive in view, for many, of a combination with a Ryzen 5000, another highlight of 2020. The AMD processors, released in early November, were in fact the protagonists of a historic overtaking even in gaming, point of reference arrival of a four-year ride that has significantly fattened the coffers of AMD. The last act, however, began a few months earlier, with the excellent Ryzen 3100 and 3300X, lagging behind the Ryzen 3000 series but with recent optimizations that have made them extremely in demand.

It is not the case, however, to underestimate the AMD Radeon RX 6000 video cards, definitely equipped in terms of brute power, strong with the introduction of the Smart Access Memory and characterized by an impressive significant step forward in terms of efficiency, very interesting also thinking about the cards RDNA 3. Sure, the Radeons are still hampered by the lack of a technology comparable to DLSS, but it's not this factor that is holding back their sales. As we all know, the main problem of this period involves almost everyone and concerns the availability of new generation video cards, processors and consoles whose production was concentrated at the same time, at the dawn of a Christmas characterized by a decidedly strong demand for due to continuous lockdowns. And it is precisely for this strong demand that none of the companies in the consumer sector have pulled back, contributing to a real traffic jam that has made it almost impossible to buy the latest gaming hardware without waiting and paying the right price.

Intel: from CPUs to GPUs

In life, we know there are calamities worse than not being able to buy a video card, but this does not mean that it is pleasant to remain empty-handed during one of the heaviest Christmas periods. last decent. All this, among other things, aggravated by having in front of powerful and desirable technologies, with the new GPUs that have made an important leap forward both in terms of power and efficiency, managing to push even at high heavyweight resolutions such as the recent Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion and Cyberpunk 2077. But we allow ourselves to be consoled by the awareness that all these steps forward will be reflected in the technologies arriving in 2021, including the evolution of devices capable of combining gaming and mobility in an increasingly effective way. In part this future is already written thanks to the cloud, where GeForce has also made progress by bringing GeForce Now to Chrome OS among other things, but there is still space for hardware, especially if we talk about Intel Tiger Lake processors. eleventh generation, designed precisely to raise the multimedia and videogame capabilities of ultraportables.

Equipped with a much higher graphics power than the previous models, so much so that even the excellent Ryzen with integrated Vega graphics, the eleventh generation chips with X and LP graphics, based on an efficient production process 10 nanometers, are important to enrich Intel's offering, but are also a testing ground for the future. In fact, they represent a vital step for an Intel which, despite being the largest of the three leading companies in the consumer PC sector, pursues independence in the field of gaming, artificial intelligence and data centers, all sectors connected to each other and in strong growth. , which represent the future of computing.

Hence the decision of Intel to return to focus strongly on graphics and this time with a very different attitude from that which characterized the Larrabee experiment. We are talking about efficient and modular solutions that look at the entire spectrum of graphics applications, from integrated solutions that we have already seen give excellent results with Tiger Lake, to supercomputers that inevitably rely on GPUs, much more advanced than CPUs. But the part that interests us in the operation are Intel video cards for high-performance gaming configurations, according to the company's plans already arriving in 2021.

AMD and NVIDIA purchases

NVIDIA is one of the most active and profitable companies in the field of artificial intelligence thanks to which it has become possible to create demos with incredible graphics starting from simple videos. Unfortunately, before all this becomes a virtual world or even just a game, it will take some time, but the steps forward that have been made in the last two years are clear and highlight, like DLSS, advances in automotive and broadcasting technologies the versatility of machine learning and generative antagonist networks. But GPUs alone are still not enough, whether we are talking about streaming gaming or home configurations. Computers still need processors and this is where we are faced with the most important move of the year for NVIDIA: the purchase of ARM for about 40 million dollars with the obvious goal of achieving independence at least in the SoC sector. .

We are talking about processors very different from the x86 ones of Intel and AMD, the current center of gravity of the PC gaming world, but we are also talking about an important move in the SoC perspective and a step that could put NVIDIA in an even more interesting position in the near future. In fact, the current CPUs struggle more and more to keep up with the GPUs despite the frequencies touched by Intel and the optimizations of the new Ryzen and it is possible that things are destined to change radically in the near future, opening up spaces that for now seem not to exist. NVIDIA may not be interested in getting into them, but Microsoft's adoption of ARM, apparently interested in using them for both Surface and its datacenters, and the consequent increase in the company's CPU support with Windows could turn into something very interesting. The same goes for AMD, which in 2020 made a very important acquisition for its future.

Of the three protagonists of this article, AMD is the smallest, speaking of mere capital, but it is also the one that it has grown more in recent years, led at a gallop by the charismatic Lisa Su towards a recovery that has hit the mark. There is still something to be done from a GPU standpoint, but as for the CPU the overwhelming success of the Ryzen 3000 and 5000 in some markets speaks volumes. Intel is a giant and is undoubtedly able to withstand the blow, but in the case of the consumer and HEPC market the balance has changed significantly compared to a few years ago, when it even seemed that AMD could sink and disappear forever. . Today, however, after yet another assault and a new rise of AMD, the company led by Lisa Su is a solid reality that was able to launch a 35 billion dollar equity operation for the acquisition of Xilinx, a giant in the sector FPGAs, with the obvious goal of gaining a foothold in the datacenter, cloud, AI and so on.

On the other hand, this is a certain future destined to grind record numbers in an interconnected world in which graphic processing, streaming and communication represent milestones in the life of a large part of our existence. A sector in which, among other things, it is worth going back to underline the increase in efficiency of the Radeon RX 6000, very important from the point of view of datacenters which together with new GPUs and CPUs will undoubtedly play an important role in a 2021 that it will undoubtedly be interesting and that, we hope, will be less complicated and tiring than this 2020.

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