Big battle looms between Intel and AMD
Dubai AMD and Intel are long-time rivals, always trying to rival each other when it comes to CPU speed and the power of integrated graphics processing units (GPUs).
Now another big battle is looming and that is between AMD’s Trinity processors and Intel Ivy Bridge.
AMD, the world’s second biggest computer chipmaker, is set to debut its 32nm Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs) in mainstream and ultrathin laptops, mainstream desktops, all-in-one PCs, home theater systems later this month. Intel has already launched its 22-nanometre IvyBridge chips.
“We have already shipped more than 700,000 chips to the producers and it is most likely to hit the shelves soon,” Alberto Boozzo, corporate vice president of sales, AMD EMEA, told Gulf News.
He said Trinity is based on the Piledriver architecture, boosting overall performance by 25 per cent and graphics performance by 50 per cent over our current Llano chips.
The traditional slugging match between Intel and AMD will intensify in the ultra-thin laptop space when AMD launches its ultra-low power 40nm Hondo APUs next year.
When it comes to the discrete notebook GPU business, AMD competes with Nvidia.
The firm has high hopes for the tablet and ultrabooks and it will be interesting to see whether its 4.5-watt Hondos can rise to the twin challenge of unsettling undisputed mobile chip giant ARM and edging out Intel.
“The ultrabook segment will have only a minimal impact in driving sales revenue this year, even though the long-term growth potential of the product is strong. But with the introduction of Windows 8 by Microsoft later this year, ultrabooks will have the potential to become a key market revenue driver in 2013,” Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst of semiconductor manufacturing at IHS.
AMD’s Trinity devices come packed with a Radeon HD 7000 series GPU for solid gaming performance.
According to Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research, AMD is a process generation behind Intel, but is implementing a new microarchitecture as it tries to boost chip performance while bringing down power consumption.
He said, ”AMD needs to introduce products in time to remain competitive. AMD will likely start with higher-margin products and then trickle down to “mainstream laptops and desktops.”
In the first quarter of this year, AMD gained market share on Intel in worldwide x86 processor shipments on the strength of mobile and desktop shipment growth.
Intel’s market share in the first quarter this year dropped to 80.2 per cent from 81 per cent in last year’s first quarter. AMD’s market share rose to 19.1 per cent from 18.2 per cent, according to Mercury Research.
“Trinity brings advantages both in higher performance and lower power consumption that will keep AMD competitive in the latest round. AMD can now claim battery life and thermal characteristics at least comparable to Intel, but they have a huge challenge to educate sellers and users that they have turned [past power consumption issues] around,” he said.
Boozzo claims Trinity chips can give a battery life of 11-12 hours.
With the acquisition of SeaMicro now complete and the recent launch of Bulldozer based chips, AMD seems to be geared up to face the growing competition with entry of ARM based players in the market. With Intel entering the smartphone market, tablets are likely to remain one of the key focuses for AMD in 2012 and beyond.
Although this segment provides less revenue per unit opportunities, the trajectory of “smartphones and tablets are impressive and AMD needs to push its way into this market to hedge against a potential slowdown in the PC market,” McCarron said.
If you’re a gamer, Boozzo says you’ll notice 20 to 50 per cent improvement over Ivy Bridge chips in performance, depending on the game and the resolution and quality. The higher you have the game’s video quality settings cranked up, the better AMD will perform.
The chips will go into laptops up to 22 millimeters thick, just a hair over the 21-mm maximum set by Intel for ultrabooks. The chips will draw around 17 watts of power, similar to the upcoming Intel’s Ivy Bridge ultrabook chips.
“AMD will also provide quad-core Trinity chips for ultrathins next year,” Boozzo said.
Intel has said ultrabooks for now would be limited to dual-core processors, but quad-core chips could give AMD-based laptops a performance advantage.
“You will see a spread of price points and configurations that will create lower price points for consumers to jump in,” McCarron said.
He said PC makers want to offer laptops at every price point, and designs are tweaked to get the smallest size and best battery life. AMD’s calling card in the past has been lower pricing.