What is Happening in the World of Home Computers

It has been some time since I wrote anything concerning Computers. The reason for the delay, is we keep having shortages in both GPU and CPU availability.

Despite various announcements, I find it useless to claim this or that performance, if the product is not generally available. However it is time to review the changes since the beginning of the year.

Intel has launched 11th generation Rocket Lake!

Built on Intel’s most advanced 14nm process node technology. (are you kidding me) This new product family will form the basis of Intel’s premium desktop portfolio for most of 2021 (how disappointing), if not longer, and features processors with up to eight cores. AMD meanwhile has 7nm and soon 5nm!

Intel still has a lot of catching up to do. They are making efforts to get better performing CPU`s out the door, but on old technology? So perhaps they had gotten terribly lazy if this was possible before and they just did not do it then.

At the top of the stack is the Core i9-11900K. Intel has set the 1000-unit pricing of the Core i9-11900K at $539. Note that Intel does this 1k unit pricing for OEMs, so the final retail price is often $10-$25 higher. This is well above AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X at $449 SEP (MSRP), which is also an 8-core processor. Intel is stating that along with better gaming performance, this processor also offers next-generation integrated graphics, support for new AI instructions, and enhanced media support for the price differential.

Intel’s 11th-Gen Rocket Lake processors have finally been cleared for liftoff, with the eight-core $539 Core i9-11900K taking on AMD’s potent Ryzen 9 5900X that leads in many benchmarks, while the six-core $262 Core i5-11600K slots in with more palatable pricing as the mainstream gaming chip to challenge AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X.

 Intel stepped forward to faster DRAM speeds (though that comes with a big caveat), finally adopted the PCIe 4.0 interface, added AVX-512 support and AI-boosting DL Boost technology etc…

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 / 24 105W $549 (Please note that this chip doesn’t have integrated graphics).

AMD Ryzen 5000G APUs (With integrated Graphics): OEM Only For Now, Full Release Later This Year (finally now some 5K series CPU`s available for public to buy )

These new Ryzen 5000G APUs are built on TSMC’s 7nm process, and will feature eight Zen 3 cores (for 5700G and 5700GE) with Vega 8 graphics. All CPUs will also have 24 lanes of PCIe 3.0 and support DDR4-3200.

Users might be disheartened to hear that this is another APU with Vega 8 graphics. AMD made it clear that the jump from 12nm to 7nm gave them a lot of extra frequency, from 1400 MHz to 2100 MHz, which enabled them to optimize for 8 compute units of Vega on 7nm, rather than the 11 compute units on 12nm, and still give a substantial speed-up in performance. AMD’s philosophy with the APU line has been to mix and match what is needed on the product at the right time, and enabling RDNA/RDNA2 on an APU at the same time as changing the CPU core might be a couple of steps too much with a new product. However it is what it is, and the increased L3 cache range for the cores will have a direct knock-on to graphics performance.

If we put side by side the Ryzen 5 5600X, the CPU, with Ryzen 5 5600G, we see a lot of similarities. Both have six cores and 12 threads, both run at 65 W, and both have 24 PCIe lanes.

However, there are a number of differences as well. The 5600X CPU has an extra +200 MHz on the turbo frequency, whereas the 5600G APU has +200 on the base frequency and it also has integrated graphics. On top of this, the CPU has PCIe 4.0 rather than PCIe 3.0, and the CPU has double the cache. If we go up to the 8-core parts, then that disparity changes a little. 

For this comparison, there is no base frequency difference, but the turbo is higher on the CPU. The APU still has the integrated graphics, but is only PCIe 3.0 off the processor and not PCIe 4.0 like the CPU. We still have the cache difference.

So the question is which would you rather have – 100-200 MHz extra CPU frequency, double the L3 cache, and PCIe 4.0, or would you rather have integrated graphics? Interesting times ahead.

Chipset Support

AMD has confirmed that X570, B550, and A520 motherboards will support the new 5000G processors. X470 and B450 motherboards might also be supported, but that depends on the motherboard manufacturer. At this time, for anyone lucky enough to get one on the open market, special Beta BIOSes will be needed to enable full performance.

Please note announcements for X570(AMD) and Z590(Intel) or equivalent Motherboards now.

GPU shortages continue but perhaps the Intel DG2 and/or Iris Graphics will give hope!