Back in May of this year, we published an opinion piece that detailed the five alternative ways AMD is thrashing Intel within the desktop CPU market. you would possibly think Intel would have worked to vary that narrative with some aggressive pricing maneuvering—you can’t change up your chip designs on a dime, after all—but that hasn’t happened. and therefore the thing is, if AMD has anything to mention about it, the chips will only still stack ever-higher against the silicon giant.
On Oct. 8, AMD took to its virtual event stage to unveil its printing operation of “Zen 3” CPUs. By the looks of them, these chips not only could extend the company’s desktop domination for multi-core content-creation tasks (something it’s Zen 2-based chips are doing handily for quite a year now) but they also finally challenge Intel in its last key stronghold: PC gaming, especially at the resolutions most of the people play at.
With numerous improvements to the planning, layout, and IPC made to the chips debuting in Zen 3, is AMD primed to become the default CPU choice for desktop computing leading into 2021? Let’s break down everything we learned at today’s event to seek out out, through the three key ways AMD could win it all.
The First Way: Its CCX and CCD Changes
One area that AMD has lagged behind Intel over the lifetime of the Zen brand is in gaming performance. It’s no secret that within the company’s push to lower the value per core of its flagship processors (through the introduction of chipset-based architectures), the planning decisions have resulted in additional latency between core complexes. That manifests itself in reduced performance in certain PC gaming scenarios–especially at the favored 1080p resolution employed by most gamers.
AMD CCX Layout
This is right down to how chips are designed, and, more specifically, how they’re laid out on each die. within the chiplet approach, each processor contains a series of four-core “CCXs” (short for “core complexes) that structure the larger “CCD” (core chiplet die).
When a CCD consists of multiple CCXs (as was the case for all CPUs within the original Zen 2 stack), the added latency that comes from increased communication distances between each CCD prevents single-core, lightly threaded performance from reaching its peak potential.
Ryzen 3 3300X CPU Top
With Zen 3, AMD has redesigned the chips from the bottom up, piggybacking off the advancements made within the company’s recent iteration of “XT” processors launched back in July. (See, for instance, our review of the Ryzen 7 3800XT.) By rethinking the layout of its CCD and CCX designs, the corporate could come much closer in its top-tier chips to the type of single-threaded and gaming-performance boosts we saw in Editors’ Choice picks just like the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X. The 3300X may be a chip that, to the present day, continues to reign because of the best value pick for desktop PC gamers, versus anything Intel has on offer at an identical price point.
The Second Way: AM4, a Venerable Platform, Keeps Paying Off
Another way that AMD looks poised to continue its streak over Intel is in its platform and required socket adoption for brand spanking new PCs, PC builds, and upgrades…or rather, its lack of required adoption. rather than forcing buyers onto a replacement motherboard platform with a replacement sort of CPU socket every other generation of chips (the typical cadence in recent years for Intel’s desktop processors), Zen 3 will mark the third launch within the Zen line to feature some level of compatibility with motherboards supported the now-venerable Socket AM4.
AMD AM4 Compatibility
The one caveat? Unlike Zen 2, which is compatible with almost any AM4-based motherboard, the cutoff for Zen 3 may be a bit above the chipset stack at this point. The new CPUs will work only with motherboards from the X470, B450, and later chipset generations. (That includes the new X570 and B550 boards.) Plus, it’s right down to motherboard manufacturers to form it work, issuing the right updates.
Back in May, the corporate clarified Zen 3 AM4 compatibility, claiming that a BIOS update would be required for any users of either X470 or B450 motherboards. Now, we’ve confirmation of that, but it isn’t the news that some prospective buyers may need to be hoped. The earliest BIOS updates for 400-series motherboards won’t hit the internet until January 2021, at the earliest, and even then, they’ll be in beta form, not a full release.
This seems like it could become a little crack in AMD’s otherwise near-impenetrable armor, but one that ought to seal up quickly enough because the dust from the Zen 3 launch settles. And, in any case, it’s still a far better prospect than what is going on on on the Intel side. With its latest 10th Generation “Comet Lake” desktop chips, like the Core i5-10600K, there’s no backward compatibility to older motherboards. you will need a replacement board supported by the Z490 chipset and fitted out with an LGA 1200 socket. Full stop.
Either way, ultimately, AMD’s hurdles here won’t be an enormous enough deal for Intel to maximize by the time motherboard makers are pushing their first BIOS builds out the door. Intel will likely not yet have its next-gen (11th Generation “Rocket Lake”) CPUs even out yet.