2017 was full of pleasant surprises for connoisseurs of desktop systems. Both key CPU developers, AMD and Intel, have presented many iconic chips during this period, interesting for users with a wide variety of requests.
AMD processors with Zen architecture have returned intrigue and long-awaited competition in the desktop processor segment. It is possible that the launch of the new platform was not as smooth as it would be desirable, but by the end of 2017, developers were able to smooth out the initial roughness, expanding the range of processors and motherboards for Socket AM4, and also improving compatibility with high-speed DDR4 memory modules.
The starting model in the Ryzen 7 line of chips allows you to feel the full power of the new 8-core AMD processors. Support for SMT technology enables the CPU to process up to 16 data streams simultaneously, increasing performance in demanding applications. The relatively low base frequencies of the Ryzen 7 1700 can be compensated for by overclocking, and if you do not chase the records, then even a complete cooler will fit for moderate acceleration.
The Ryzen 5 1600 model became a real popular choice. If the 8-core chips of the Ryzen 7 line are more interesting to demanding users who are ready to spend more than $ 300 on purchasing the processor, the 6-core Ryzen 5 1600 fits perfectly into the balanced configurations. Comes with a mid-range video card, this model easily becomes the basis for the optimal gaming configuration. Support for SMT also adds computational performance to multi-threaded applications.
All AMD Ryzen family processors have an unlocked multiplier, so the frequency configuration can be adjusted to suit their needs. The potential for overclocking is relatively small. Uncommon processors can overcome the boundary at 4 GHz. To improve the frequency characteristics, the developers promise in the second generation Ryzen, which AMD should present already in the first quarter of this year.
With the advent of the chips of the family Coffee Lake, for the first time Intel Company offered 6-core processors for the mass desktop platform. The increased number of cores and the volume of L3, increased frequencies and aggressive operation of Turbo Boost technology ensured a 40-50% increase in performance compared to that of the previous generation processors (Kaby Lake). At the same time, the cost of the presented models remained approximately at the same level. No, this is not an attraction of unprecedented generosity, but a consequence of real competition in the market.
The top model of the new line has practically no drawbacks. Very fast 6-core with Hyper-Threading support. A great option for an ultimate gaming system. You can only pay attention to the long limited availability on the market after the official start of sales and not the best thermoplastic interface under the lid, which limits CPU overclocking.
Pentium processors of the Kaby Lake lineup were a real surprise in early 2017. The manufacturer has unlocked Hyper-Threading technology for this series of CPUs, allowing dual-core chips to simultaneously process up to 4 data streams. This technically simple move provided a noticeable jump in performance, bringing Pentium closer to the more expensive Core i3-7xxx.
The base model of the new Pentium G4560 series was very attractive the price is $ 64. Processors have become a real godsend for those who hoped to save money when assembling the base platform. However, great demand for this model forced the manufacturer to privately lower production volumes. Over time, the initial version of the Pentium reappeared in a wide sale, but at a new price, not much different from those for the older representatives of the series.
It was interesting
The past year was unusually productive with respect to desktop processors. In addition to the already noted models, you can also select a whole group of interesting chips. In particular, for initial-class systems, AMD offered 4-core Ryzen 3 processors with a cost of $ 110.
Interesting solutions in its category, which fundamentally spoiled the life of the dual-core Core i3-7xxx. Although with the advent of 4-core Core i3-8xxx, and especially expected budget fees for Coffee Lake, the future of these models does not look cloudless anymore.
It's nice to see that AMD intends to play not only in the mass segment, but also offers non-conventional solutions for the most demanding users. Experimenting with Ryzen's capabilities, the developers combined a pair of 8-core chips, increasing the number of available lines of PCI Express 3.0 and adding it all with a 4-channel DDR4 memory controller.
The ruler of powerful CPUs, called Ryzen Threadripper, includes models with 8, 12 and 16. All chips support SMT technology, which doubles the number of simultaneously processed threads. For the processors, a new Socket TR4 platform is used, which, although it can not boast of a wealth of choice of motherboards, but also those that already exist, allow assembling a powerful functional system.
Last year, Intel had to perform in an unusual role, responding to convincing arguments of the main competitor. Obviously, AMD's offerings are not something that surprised the once-carefree market leader, but they forced the emotion on the face without a grimace to accelerate with the withdrawal of new products. Under external pressure, we saw the processors of the family Coffee Lake in the form and in the composition that was presented in September. In addition to the already mentioned flagship, we can also distinguish Core i7-8700. A promising model for those who are not ready to play with overclocking, but want to get a top six-core with Hyper-Threading support. The main obstacle is only the very limited availability of this model on sale.
For processors of lower rulers Core developers also increased the number of computational units. In the 8th generation series, all the Core i5 chips became 6-core, and all Core i3 models received 4 full-featured physical cores. In all cases, the performance gain is very tangible, this is by no means 5-10%, which we are already accustomed to with the next generation CPU change. Here we emphasize the initial models in the rulers. Core i3-8100 is the most affordable 4-core processor with the recommended price of $ 117. Almost at this price the chip can already be purchased in retail. In a couple of them, there is a shortage of inexpensive motherboards, the appearance of which is waiting for in the first quarter of this year.
The six-core Core i5-8400 also pleased with the recommended cost of $ 182, although the availability of this model still has problems, and the price is noticeable
In the middle of last year, Intel introduced a new enthusiastic platform LGA2066 with the subsequent replenishment of the available processor line for it. Initially, the Skylake-X chips were presented with the number of cores 6,8 and 10, as well as 4-core Kaby Lake-X. A few months later, the Core-X range was expanded with models with 12, 14, 16 and even 18 cores. And this is all within the desktop platform. Of course, the four-valued price tags of models with ten and a large number of nuclei will be deemed justified by users who are surely aware in what direction to channel and how to effectively use such computational resources. These are some complicated countable tasks that are well parallelized, but can not be accelerated with QuickSync or GPU transcoders.
Plans for 2018
This year also promises to be interesting. AMD should update the Ryzen line. We are not talking about deep architectural changes. First of all, we expect improvement in the frequency potential of the processors and better compatibility with high-speed memory modules. If the manufacturer of the crystals, the company GlobalFoundries, still manage to transfer the production of AMD chips to a 12-nanometer process technology, then in addition to the frequency reserve, we will get some reduction in the power consumption of the processors. For sure, Ryzen's update will stretch into several stages and will follow the already well-trodden path – from the most productive to the least expensive. If technological difficulties do not arise, Ryzen Threadripper may also be upgraded.
Intel this year will make every effort to develop the line of Coffee Lake, expanding the range of processors, as well as offering new chipsets with improved functionality. But as for the next generation of CPU, then if you believe leaked slides to the network with the plans of the manufacturer, in the near future the output of desktop 10-nanometer chips under LGA1151 is not expected. The transition to a new process technology is accompanied by serious difficulties, especially when it comes to the manufacture of complex crystals. The output of 10-nm chips is not the first time being postponed, although, as we see in the example of Coffee Lake, the potential of the improved 14-nanometer process technology is not exhausted yet.
The HEDT platform will be updated in the fourth quarter. Intel will offer for the LGA2066 new chips Cascade Lake-X. No details about these processors yet, we can only assume that we are talking about the improved Skylake-X, which will also be produced using 14-nanometer technology.
In 2018, manufacturers will increase the production of chips, eliminating the deficit and closing problematic position. Against the backdrop of renewed competition, I would like to see a genuine fight for the wallets of potential buyers, with relying discounts, markdowns and sales. Still, we deserve it.
In the light of the latest news about security problems, this year there will be a lot of worries not only among CPU developers, but also among programmers who will try to compensate for the shortcomings of processor microarchitectures. Well, well, the beginning of the year is promising, it will not be boring for sure.