Against the backdrop of COVID-19 and component shortages, the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kept its date with announcements and launches in the processor ecosystem. We saw multiple releases and announcements from AMD, Intel and NVIDIA for both CPUs and GPUs. Trends that stood out included:
- Focus on mobile processors — enabling AAA 1080p gaming in mobile/ultra-mobile form factors.
- Focus on device security by building hardware protocols.
- Focus on software and hardware offerings that accelerate performance.
AMD: Mobile processors with integrated security, budget GPU
Notebook segment: AMD launched a new series of its Radeon RX 6000 mobile processors that are built on TSMC’s 6nm and have Zen 3+ as core architecture, RDNA2 graphic architecture with LPDDR5, DDR5, Wi-Fi 6E and USB 4.0 support. The processors achieve a clock speed of up to 5GHz, which AMD claims gives up to 69% faster video editing, 125% faster 3D rendering performance and double the 1080p gaming performance when compared to the Ryzen 5000 series. Additionally, these processors are the first ones to integrate Microsoft Pluton Security Processor that helps in eliminating attack vectors and protecting critical data.
AMD also introduced new power management features and an adaptive power control framework to improve the power efficiency of the new processors, promising up to 24-hour battery life, 30% less power consumption during a video conference and 15% less while web browsing.
Desktop segment: AMD launched the Ryzen 7 5800X3D featuring AMD 3D V-Cache technology, claiming it to be the fastest desktop gaming processor. It also teased Ryzen 7000 Series processors, the next-generation “Zen 4” core-based processors built on the 5nm process, to be released later in 2022. These processors promise to be the next big thing in AMD’s kitty since 2017 as they carry major architectural changes, like a pivot to LGA (land grid array) as compared to BGA (Ball Grid array), 5 GHz clock rate for all cores and PCIe 5 support.
Notebook segment: AMD launched a new series of discrete GPUs, Radeon RX 6000S, for the notebook and ultra-slim form factors. The series is purported to achieve up to 100 fps (frames per second) for the ultra-thin mobile gaming segment. AMD also expanded the Radeon RX 6000M series for its extreme gaming laptop to offer entry-level and mid-range options.
Desktop segment: For the GPU category, AMD launched its budget-friendly GPU RX 6500 XT at $199 with a 2.6 GHz game clock and 16MB infinity cache. It also launched the RX 6400 graphic card to bring 1080p gaming to the mainstream market. This can be considered as AMD’s effort to establish a stronghold in the GPU category and its acceptance of FSR technology (AMD FidelityFX™ Super Resolution).
AMD Software Adrenalin Edition will be upgrading its platform to enable low-latency and high-fidelity gaming. To be released in spring 2022, the upgrade includes AMD’s Radeon Super Resolution (RSR), a spatial upscaling technology to enhance gaming experiences at native resolutions. Additionally, it will feature AMD Link 5.0, an application that allows users to play their PC games on a phone, tablet, or Windows PC from virtually anywhere.
Intel: 20+ new mobile processors, 50 processors in total including discrete GPU
Notebook segment: Intel released 22 new 12th generation processors, including a new P series of ultra-portable mobile processors. These bring dedicated levels of performance, earlier available in desktops and extreme gaming laptops, to thin-and-light laptops. Developed on the big.LITTLE architecture with both performance and efficiency cores, this single, scalable SoC architecture is built on Intel 7 process and supports DDR5, LPDDR 5, Wi-fi 6E and USB 4.0. The P series works as an intermediate offering between the H series of laptops, aimed at extreme workloads, and the U series, aimed at the ultra-portable segment. According to Intel, the H-series processors are the fastest mobile processors ever, outperforming even the Apple M1 Max in content creation.
The interesting thing about these 12th generation mobile processors is the implementation of the big.LITTLE architecture ARM style, as seen in the Alder Lake Desktop CPUs last year. The major upgrade comes due to the number of cores Intel is offering for the CPUs. The H and P series have 14 cores in total, whereas the U series has 10 cores, compared to 8 in the H series and 4 cores in the U series in the 11th generation.
Desktop segment: Intel launched 22 new processors (both in 65W and 35W), unveiling the complete range of 12th generation CPU processors that have clock rates up to 5.1 GHz and support DDR5 memory. Besides, it launched a new cooling system, Intel® Laminar Coolers, which accompany the new 65W processors.
Billed as its comeback in the discrete GPU market, Intel announced shipments of Intel Arc graphics (codenamed Alchemist) with 50 new mobile and desktop customer design wins. Intel Arc graphics offers industry-leading advanced features such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing, Xe Super Sampling (XeSS), AI-driven upscaling technology and Intel Deep Link technology. The Intel technologies help in intelligently routing power between CPU and GPU processing engines to boost performance by distributing workloads across multiple engines. This does not represent the introduction of any new technology but Intel’s ace execution of a strategy to gain market share.
Intel Mobileye announced a new system-on-chip (SoC) that is purpose-built for autonomous vehicles (AVs). The EyeQ Ultra is built on Mobileye’s industry-leading EyeQ technology and brings the work of 10 EyeQ5 SoCs in a single package [176 tera operations per second (TOPS)] to deliver the technology required for a fully self-driving vehicle. The interesting thing is that it is fabbed on 5nm and is built on RISC-V cores.
Mobileye also announced a collaboration with Geely’s Zeekr brand to launch the industry’s first Level 4 consumer AV, expected to begin production in 2024. It also announced the launch and shipment to customers of the industry’s first fully capable Level 2+ vehicle equipped with a 360-degree surround-view sensing system and driving policy for the industry’s most advanced longitudinal and lateral control.
Intel announced the launch of its 3rd generation Intel Evo platform that meets the specifications and key experience indicators set by Intel’s Project Athena Innovation Program. The platform enables better responsiveness, battery life, instant wake function, fast charge, and intelligent collaboration. The intelligent collaboration aims to deliver enhanced experience through video-conferencing apps by leveraging AI-based background noise cancellation, integrated Intel Wi-Fi 6E (Gig+), Intel® Connectivity Performance Suite6, and optional AI-accelerated camera imaging effects.
Intel vPro platform
Intel announced an upgrade to its vPro platform that provides hardware-based security options to consumers with two variants – Enterprise and Essential – to cater to all businesses.
NVIDIA: New GPU cards for laptops, adoption of Drive Hyperion platform
Notebook segment: NVIDIA launched new GPU cards GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti for laptops for the first time. Aimed as extreme and mid-level performance variants, these GPUs feature 16GB GDDR6, which is a first for laptops, and promise to deliver higher performance than the desktop TITAN RTX. NVIDIA claims that these perform average seven times faster than the latest MacBook Pro 16 M1 Max in 3D renders.
NVIDIA also launched a budget GPU – RTX 3050 ($249), which allows consumers to play ray-traced games on a 50-class GPU at over 60 fps for 1080p gaming. This GPU is a bit above AMD’s 6500XT, which is more comparable to its GTX 1650. NVIDIA also teased its RTX 3090 Ti discrete graphic card, the most powerful discrete desktop graphic card till now.
NVIDIA announced the adoption of its Drive Hyperion platform that has 12 state-of-the-art surround cameras, 12 ultrasonics, 9 radars, 3 interior sensing cameras and 1 front-facing lidar. NVIDIA Drive Hyperion is computer architecture and sensor set for autonomous vehicles that are open to all. NVIDIA announced Desay, Flex, Quanta, Valeo and ZF as its platform scaling partners and Polestar, IM Motors, Li Auto, NIO, R Auto and Xpeng as the companies adopting the platform.
NVIDIA Studio: NVIDIA Studio, a platform for creators, has expanded its support for NVIDIA Omniverse to enable real-time simulation of complex 3D workflows.
This year’s launches from chip companies focused on:
- Introducing chips in an ultra-mobile notebook form factor that can offer desktop-level performances with the least compromise on battery life.
- Product offerings spanning the whole spectrum from entry-level and mid-level to extreme performance focusing primarily on mobile/ultra-mobile form factors.
- Making GPU affordable and consequently 1080p gaming.
- Comprehensive software suites and upgrades to extract maximum efficiency from the hardware while harmonizing with the OS to enhance user experience and collaboration across apps.
- A sneak peek into the wonders of the omniverse and, more importantly, how to ‘use’ it.
This year will continue to raise the bar as we await the release of next-generation CPUs and GPUs in the second half. The companies’ enthusiasm towards making technology accessible in all form factors and budgets opens the door to mainstream adoption of the fundamentals of the omniverse.