AMD, with its 64 bit processors, gained a huge fan following because of its supreme multitasking and graphic features. Intel, the older player in the field, and the largest semiconductor manufacturer, is the market leader, though AMD does match up to it in almost all aspects. Let’s take a look at some comparisons between the two.
AMD and Intel, both manufacture microprocessors based on the x86 architecture. The tussle between these two organizations has probably been the most prolonged war in the computer world. Their corporate rivalry dates back to 1969, with the setting up of the Advanced Micro Devices Corporation, just one year after the establishment of Intel Corporation. In January 1995, both organizations settled whatever litigation they were involved in. However, the two processor giants have been fighting for the supremo title ever since the processor industry came into existence. The biggest point of comparison between the two of them is their architecture. The features that both chips offer are more or less similar, but the approach is different.
AMD Versus INTEL Chips Comparison
When thinking about a processor, you have to take into account the main features that are going to be of interest to you and affect you the most, positively or negatively. While most people would look at the price and speed aspect, there are others who are also interested in the finer aspects like graphics performance, gaming capability, power consumption, and other such related features. To keep it simple, sit back and think what you will be doing the most on your machine, and then go ahead and choose accordingly. Here, to make things simpler, we will compare and contrast both the processors on the various platforms on which they are tested.
Price vs. Performance
When it comes to performance to cost ratio, AMD definitely has the advantage. Its processors were cheaper as compared to Intel and they definitely did provide high value performance. But with the advent of Intel’s Quadcore and Core 2 Duo processors, the situation has totally changed. The performance of a quadcore processor is, perhaps, the best in the market, and its price is continuously falling.
When it comes to the overall power consumption of a system, Intel definitely suffered the initial setback. Its Pentium 4 processors had a very bad reputation of being 150W TDP. Intel tried to solve the problem in its Core 2 Duo processor, which goes down to less than 75W TDP. But experiments have still proved that a machine running on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor consumed at least 7W more power than an AMD Sempron.
3D Gaming & Graphics
This is basically the feature that had allowed AMD to hold its own for a long time. Even with no graphics card, AMD’s 64 bit processor could take on the load and support the gaming features of advanced games. Intel. however, recovered from its initial setback, because of its multi-threading features. The AMD Athlon 64 bit could beat the Pentium 4 computers in almost all respects when it came to gaming. The introduction of the Quadcore and Core 2 Duo processors did change the scenario. But when it comes to 3D gaming and the quality of graphics, AMD is the clear winner.
MP3 and Video Encoding
AMD’s 64 bit processors provided faster encoding of MP3s as well as videos. The reason is simple – a 64 bit processor will, of course, be faster than a 32 bit processor. Intel’s 32 bit processors had higher clock frequencies, but while the clock frequency of a 64 bit processor could be less, it worked at almost twice the speed than what was mentioned in its manual. This feature was also combated by Intel with its Core 2 Duo and Quadcore processors. If we do not run experiments to test the minutest details, then both the companies can provide good encoding capability for any average user.
Computers working on Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor and Quadcore processors definitely have superior cooling features and better heat sinks, when compared to the AMD machines. Not only this, but the Core 2 Duo processors could reach to a speed of 3.2 GHz on proper cooling.
Office Productivity and Multitasking
Finally, we come down to the basic features that every computer user is worried about – the level of office productivity, Internet browsing speeds, and multitasking that their machine would provide. Just as a 32 bit processor and a 64 bit processor cannot be compared with respect to office productivity; similarly, it is better if we don’t compare these processors as well on the level of their office productivity. You cannot actually notice a spreadsheet launching faster on your screen, or your letters being typed faster. Both the organizations are equivalent when compared on the basis of their office productivity. But, coming down to multitasking, AMD, with its 64 bit processors, provided better multitasking features, and none of the Intel’s processors, before the launching of the Core 2 Duo processors, could match up to it. But, with the entry of Intel’s Core 2 Duo and Quadcore on the scene, we can again consider the situation as being pretty well-balanced.
Before we start discussing the latest products from Intel and AMD, let us recall their previous launches. Cutthroat competition between these two processor giants has always led to the launch of rival products. Intel’s Celeron had AMD’s Sempron as its competitor, where both had one core each, and the die size was 65nm for Intel and 45nm for AMD. Then came Intel Core 2 Duo with AMD Turion II, that had 2 cores each. There was continuous reduction in die size, and the number of cores increased. 2012 saw the launch of AMD’s Bulldozer and Intel’s Ivy Bridge. Ivy Bridge processors had reduced die size of 22nm, while AMD stuck to its 32nm die size. 2013 saw the launch of Intel’s Haswell processors, while AMD came up with Richland. Let us see these two microarchitecture in more detail.
- The successor to the famous Ivy Bridge is Haswell microarchitecture, that was launched in the year 2013. With the launch of this microarchitecture, the process size has reduced to 22nm. This launch was specially designed for convertible or hybrid ultrabooks. Haswell’s successor is Broadwell (tick), and Skylake (tock), while its predecessor is Sandy Bridge (tock), and Ivy Bridge (tick).
- The power efficiency that this architecture has gained is the biggest single generational gain in the history of processors. The target power consumption changed from 35 – 40 watts to 10 – 20 watts. This power efficiency has been achieved by fitting all the external features on the chip itself, thus reducing the distance traveled for powering a particular feature or port.
- As mentioned earlier, this microarchitecture is specially designed for ultrabooks. What makes Haswell suitable for this latest computer range is its battery life. The older Ivy Bridge architecture used to offer less battery life than Haswell, which gives up to nine hours of battery life while in idle state, and about six hours of HD playback, for Windows 8.
- The other important feature that makes Haswell stand out, is the fetching ‘fresh data’ feature. This feature enables the notebook to update mailboxes, social media data, etc., while the computer is in idle state. This means that if you have not used your ultrabook for a couple of days, you need not worry about the updates, Haswell will take care of it. The newly developed sleep states have the ability to be responsive, and also high battery performance.
- Graphics is one area that Intel didn’t lose out on, with Haswell. This microarchitecture is claimed to be the most powerful graphics core from the manufacturer. The number of execution units has gone up from 16 units in Sandy Bridge to 40 units and 1300 MHz in Haswell. This huge addition of execution units has increased the computational performance of the product. There is an addition of 128MB of eDRAM that acts as a separate L4 cache for both graphics and CPU cores.
- The number of cores hasn’t changed from the previous launch, which means, Haswell is also quadcore. However, the number of transistors have doubled. With Haswell, Intel has exposed us to another socket, LGA1150. This means that, if you have to upgrade your current computer to Haswell, you will need a whole new motherboard altogether.
- The new microarchitecture has incorporated space for six USB 3.0 ports, and there are six SATA ports that have 6Gbps speeds. Despite the small tweaks and minor changes, Haswell architecture cannot match the high standards set for desktop computing. This is the reason why experts believe that Haswell is best suited for mobile applications, where low power and high battery life are the only important features. As far as desktop versions are concerned, Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge are still the forerunners.
- AMD’s answer to Haswell, is Richland, which is based on Piledriver architecture. The products based on this microarchitecture were launched in the 2012. The architecture basically targeted the desktop as well as the mobile market. Piledriver succeeded the Bulldozer architecture, while it is succeeded by Steamroller.
- The changes in this microarchitecture are mostly incremental, which means that, the basic module hasn’t changed much. The die size of 32nm, also remains the same as the previous versions. With Piledriver, AMD launched the eight, six, and four core versions. However, as mentioned earlier, there isn’t much of a change. The transistor count also remains the same at 1.2 billion.
- There are improvements made to the branch prediction and integer scheduling feature. Instead of three IGPs, AMD has launched five flip-flops. Piledriver has been measured to have about 8 – 10% improvement in its clock speed, while there is about 15% increase in the performance.
- The power consumption of this architecture has been reduced by the usage of hard-edge flip-flops. The Vishera FX-series, that are developed for the Desktop Performance market, is equipped with Turbo Core 3.0, using the existing socket and 900 series motherboard. It was only in 2013 that the FX-9590 and FX-9370 have been launched, which have the maximum turbo speed of 5.0 GHz and 4.7 GHz.
- The Richland APUs, which were launched in 2013, have an instant edge over the Intel processors with respect to graphic cores. The discrete Radeon graphics cores are superior to the graphic cores of Haswell. When one looks at the architecture of Richland chips, you find that almost more than 50 percent of the space is occupied by die and system-on-chip (SoC ) peripherals, while the remaining 40 – 50 percent is occupied by 8000-series Radeon graphics.
- The A10-6800K is the fastest Richland APU, that has an integrated HD 8670D GPU and two Piledriver modules operating at 4.1 GHz, and 4.4 GHz in turbo mode. There has been an observed 5% increase in the performance of Richland APUs over the Trinity series, due to Richland’s higher clock speed and overclocking potential.
Before we end this discussion, let us consider a few more common features that both these processors can handle equivalently. It may not be of much concern to many people, but the processors manufactured by both the organizations support the sharing of the DDR2 RAM, peripherals and video cards equally well. As a computer user, it is in fact not necessary to be a die-hard fan of the chips of either organization. Just wait for the more advanced chip to be launched; it may be from any organization, but you will definitely be the one to benefit.