AMD unveils a 32-core 64-thread consumer CPU at Computex 2018. Intel fakes it.
Imagine you’re Intel. The standard bearer. The crême de la crême for server farms and mainstream computing. Our beloved Macs now all run on Intel. As do the majority of consumer level desktops and portables. But it seems that Intel’s prominence at the top has made it a bit complacent. A bit too comfortable.
Some time last year, the underdog, AMD released its new generation of CPU architecture called Ryzen. And it was good. Really good. Not only did Ryzen have excellent IPC performance just short of Intel’s offerings, it also added more cores for equal or even lower cost to the consumer than Intel’s counterparts. If you were only a gamer, Intel was still king. However, most of us use our computers for more than just gaming, and AMD’s Ryzen had Intel beat on many fronts. Things like streaming, rendering, and compiling all were better on Ryzen for a much lower price.
In response, Intel scrambled last year to release their top Coffee Lake consumer CPU, the i7 8700k. It too offered 2 more cores than its previous incarnation as the 7700k plus a slight bump in speed. After nearly 8 years of being at the top, it took AMD adding more cores to its lineup (and improved IPC) to force Intel to respond in kind. Competition is wonderful.
AMD’s announcement of their new 32-core 64-thread consumer CPU called Ryzen Threadripper 2, is quite an achievement. It improves on the previous generation Ryzen successes, but even with all of that processing power, it is still consumer friendly in terms of power requirements of 250W while remaining capable of being air cooled. Great news since, not only do we consumers have to deal with the cost of entry, but also operating costs.
Earlier in the week Intel, it seems, tried to knock some wind out of AMD’s sails by not only announcing, but also demo’ing a 28-core 56-thread “consumer” CPU to be released Q4. Not only did it have a LOT of cores, but it ran up to 5Ghz! Incredible. Intel is back in the game!
Or are they?
A closer look
Although Intel was tight lipped on the specifications, the sleuths at tomshardware.com got a closer look at Intel’s “consumer” offering.
The long and short of it is that this is no consumer grade CPU. Tomshardware found many similarities with it to the Xeon Platnimum 8180. A $10,000 CPU. Not only that, the power requirements needed to run the demo machine required more than your wall outlet at home. The motherboard needed a 32-phase power delivery system. Maybe that’s acceptable for a datacenter, but for a home consumer? No way.
They also uncovered that the CPU was being cooled by not only a water system, but a chilled water system. The power requirements to run the cooler, let alone to power the CPU, would put this “solution” way beyond the average consumer. Somewhere in the 1000W range! Remember, AMDs 32 core offering is running on air at 250W.
Intel was caught faking it. Badly.
Intel caught wind of journalists getting access to the innards of the demo machine and were seemingly not too happy about it. They apparently picked up their toys and went home. But the information has already spread far and wide and now it looks frankly kind of pathetic. Here is Intel, the tech giant, the industry leader, money making behemoth, cheating (or lying?) about its upcoming offerings in a most spectacular way.
I get it, Intel wants to keep mindshare and announcing this CPU right before AMD’s unveiling is smart. But you can’t just use a PR stunt as your roadmap. You still need to innovate. You still need to be interested in your products and not solely your bottom line in order to compete.
Hopefully, Intel will learn from this debacle. From one of my favourite books, Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams, it’s better to lengthen your line than try to cut someone else’s. Intel, please lengthen your line. Otherwise, I’m totally good with Tim Cook announcing a 32-core 64-thread Mac Pro running AMD in 2019.
What about you? How do you feel about Intel faking it instead of making it?