It’s officially a two-horse race in the CPU and GPU market again.
Pick a casual gamer off the street today and ask him what his preferred CPU and GPU manufacturers are. Chances are, he’ll say Intel and NVIDIA. The sad irony to this is that while Intel makes processors and NVIDIA makes graphics chips, it’s AMD that makes both.
AMD should have a wealth of experience and design expertise to draw on. Indeed, in its heyday, it was AMD that beat Intel to x86- based 64-bit processors with its Opteron and Athlon 64 chips.
Unfortunately, AMD has lagged behind Intel and NVIDIA in recent years. It became known as the budget option, and has not been a serious contender in the enthusiast space for way too long.
However, 2017 looks to be the year that the red camp turns the tide. Earlier this year, AMD unveiled its Ryzen processors, including the octa-core Ryzen 7 1800X, a mainstream chip with the chops to take on Intel’s 10-core Core i7-6950X, which cost well over a thousand dollars.
Ryzen had its flaws, and it was no gaming juggernaut, but it offered an attractive price-to-performance ratio that endeared it to those who dabble in both content creation and gaming.
At the end of July, the company flnally took the wraps off products that it had teased for so long – Radeon RX Vega and its massive Ryzen Threadripper CPUs.
The Radeon RX Vega 64 is AMD’s return to the performance graphics market, offering 12.66 TFLOPS of peak FP32 performance to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s 11.3 TFLOPS.
The kicker is that it retails for only US$499, a very attractive price for a flagship product, especially considering that NVIDIA has been debuting its top-end cards at US$699.
Similarly, the Threadripper 1950X packs a whopping 16 cores and 32 threads into a gargantuan chip that costs just US$999, the same asking price as Intel’s 10-core Core i9-7900X. There’s little doubt that Threadripper will be a multi-core beast in professional workloads, and offer drool-worthy performance for Twitch streamers who need to encode video as they game.
Intel and NVIDIA will almost certainly reassert their dominance with the upcoming 18-core Core i9 chip and Volta architecture. But AMD has shown that it’s got plenty of life in it yet, successfully forcing price readjustments from Intel, and breathing competition back into the market.