The dilemma of choosing between AMD and Intel processors is no doubt a nightmare for many people. While the jargon can be at least ignored, there is no doing away with the basic differences between the two if you want to make the right choice.
Intel and AMD are the two largest manufacturers of processors on the planet right now. These big names are synonymous with laptop and desktop processors available today. The ferocity quotient of competition between AMD and Intel has been raised higher with the launch of AMD’s brand new ‘FX Processors’, along with the AMD A-Series of processors, designed to counter Intel’s core i3, core i5, and core i7 processors. With the chip giants fighting for market supremacy, it’s the consumers who stand to benefit. Recently, Intel has raced ahead with its superior 22 nm Haswell architecture, while AMD launched its 32 nm SOI processors. Though AMD has to still cover some ground, it seems appropriate that a comparison between the latest processors launched by Intel and AMD, be presented here.
Intel and AMD Processor Family
The Core series is made up of 3 current models, the Intel Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3, and their predecessors like the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad. While the jump from 1st generation Core to 2nd generation Core was nothing short of iconic, the jump from 2nd generation to 3rd generation was minor. In fact, the difference between 2nd and 3rd generation Core processors was more obvious in the graphics department, with the HD 4000 replacing the HD 3000.
- Latest: 4th Generation Intel Core i7 ‘Haswell’ Processor (2013)
- Preceded by: 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 ‘Ivy Bridge’ Processor (2012)
- No. of Cores: 4
- No. of Threads: 8
- Clock Speed: 2.5 GHz
- Cache: 8 MB
- Lithography: 22 nm
- Noteworthy Features: Turbo Boost 2.0, vPro Technology, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization Technology, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, etc.
- Latest: 4th Generation Intel Core i5 ‘Haswell’ Processor (2013)
- Preceded by: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 ‘Ivy Bridge’ Processor (2012)
- No. of Cores: 4
- No. of Threads: 4
- Clock Speed: 3 GHz
- Cache: 6 MB
- Lithography: 22 nm
- Noteworthy Features: Turbo Boost 2.0, vPro Technology, Virtualization Technology, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, etc.
- Latest: 4th Generation Intel Core i3 ‘Haswell’ Processor (2013)
- Preceded by: 3rd Generation Intel Core i3 ‘Ivy Bridge’ Processor (2012)
- No. of Cores: 2
- No. of Threads: 4
- Clock Speed: 3.3 GHz
- Cache: 3 MB
- Lithography: 22 nm
- Noteworthy Features: Turbo Boost 2.0, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization Technology, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, etc.
The performance of high-end Xeon processors, i.e., the Intel Xeon E7, Intel Xeon E5, and Intel Xeon E3 families, can be either rated as superior or at par with the Core series, but unlike the Core series, these x86 microprocessors are specifically designed for server or non-consumer workstations.
Hierarchically, Intel’s Pentium family of processors follow the Core series mentioned above. The latest model in this line-up, the Haswell-based Intel® Pentium® Processor J2900, was released in the fourth quarter of 2013. Pentium processors in the market today are based on the same processor chip on which the Core series is based, but they have toned-down features like lower clock frequency and less cache memory. Similarly, advanced features like Virtualization and Hyper-Threading are also absent. However, recently launched models come with features like Intel 64, Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, etc.
While the Pentium series has been completely shifted to the Ivy Bridge architectural platform, only the latest Celeron processors use Ivy Bridge architecture-at least as of now. The latest model in the Celeron line up, the Intel® Celeron® Processor 2970M, which was released in the second quarter of 2014, is based on Intel’s latest Haswell microarchitecture. Today’s Celeron processors come with many advanced features, like Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, etc. These processors are primarily meant for budget users who don’t use heavy applications.
Intel Atom, the low-power, low-cost, and low-performance processors from Intel, are mostly used in netbooks and small desktop computers. While the early models measured 45 nm, the Cedar range which (launched in December 2011) measured 32 nm which was a significant development in the Atom family. The CedarView models support SSE, SSE2, SSE3, etc. In fact, the D2550 and D2700 models of the CedarView range even support Hyper-Threading. In June 2011, it was revealed that Intel has three models – the ValleyView (32 nm), Silvermont (22 nm) and Airmont (14 nm), slated for release, over the course of next 3 years. Of these, ValleyView and Silvermont have been released, while Airmont is under development.
AMD FX Series comprises AMD FX 8-Core Processor Black Edition, AMD FX 6-Core Processor Black Edition and AMD FX 4-Core Processor Black Edition. While the initial models, which were based on Bulldozer architecture, didn’t work in AMDs favor, Piledriver was expected to work wonders for the company. The AMD FX 8-Core Processor Black Edition boasts of being the first native 8-core desktop processor in the world. Its features include AMD Turbo Core, Hyper-Transport, AMD Virtualization Technology, enhanced power management features, etc.
AMD A-Series consists of the AMD A10 Processor, 2nd Gen AMD A8 Processor, 2nd Gen AMD A6 Processor and the 2nd Gen AMD A4 Processor. The 2nd generation accelerated processing units (APUs) surfaced soon after Intel introduced its Ivy Bridge based processors. The quad-core A10-7850K boasts of an impressive CPU clock speed of 4.0 GHz and GCN Architecture, featuring supercharged AMD Radeon™ R7 graphics. It also come with AMD Mantle technology, to improve gaming. Other features include HSA architecture for Ultra HD resolution, and AMD Eyefinity technology for multi-monitor support.
AMD Phenom II lineup consists of 45 nm dual-core, triple-core, quad-core and hexa-core processors (AMD Phenom II X6 being the hexa-core model). There also exist low-power models in the Phenom series which are distinguished by the addition of letter ‘e’ to the model number. Additional features include HyperTransport Technology (up to 4000MT/s full duplex, or up to 16.0GB/s I/O Bandwidth), 3DNow, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4a, and enhanced virus protection.
AMDs Athlon II family of processors include the AMD Athlon II X4 Quad-Core Processor, AMD Athlon II X3 Triple-Core Processor, AMD Athlon II X2 Dual-Core Processor, and their energy-efficient versions. Athlon II energy-efficient versions are denoted by alphabet ‘e’ at the end of the model number and ultra-low voltage models are denoted by letter ‘u’.
Rival to Intel’s Celeron series, the Sempron processor is primarily meant for moderate users. Its noteworthy features include HyperTransport Technology, enhanced virus protection, Enhanced 3DNow, Cool’n’Quiet, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3 and SSE4a. With speed dominating the processor market today, the fact that these processors have been in the picture for so many years has been an achievement in itself.
Comparing the Latest Intel and AMD Processors
CPUs or processors are the brains of computers. This brain analyzes and is responsible for the overall performance of the system. Performance of a computer is directly dependent on its processing power. If you are planning to buy a new laptop or desktop computer, or planning to upgrade your existing system, it’s vital that you select a processor from AMD or Intel, which exactly matches your computing requirements. In the following lines, you will find the best high-end, mid-range and entry-level desktop computer processors from AMD and Intel compared.
Both chip giants have unique and different approaches to processor design, but their ultimate aim is the same, which is creating the best processors on the planet, that will empower, individuals, homes and businesses all over the world. Let us analyze AMD’s performance against Intel, comparing their best high-end, mid-end and entry-level desktop processors.
AMD released a brand new line of desktop processors in the form of its FX series, while Intel has kept upgrading its core i7 Extreme line, with faster processors, each outclassing the one released before.
Intel Core i7-4960HQ Vs. AMD FX-9590 Vishera
This is a comparison between two monster chips. AMD FX-9590, powered by Vishera technology boasts of 8 cores, with a base clocking frequency of 4.7 GHz, which can be raised to a Max Turbo frequency of 5.0 GHz, with 8 MB L3 cache or 8 MB L2 cache. The Intel Core i7-4960HQ Haswell is a four-core processor, with 6MB L2 cache, and 2.6 GHz of base clocking frequency, which can be amplified to 3.8 GHz. Performance wise, despite the four lesser cores and lower clock frequency, the Intel core i7-4960HQ outclasses the FX-9590 in all departments, which justifies its higher price. It is designed for serious gamers and users with heavy computing requirements. However, the advantages of FX-9590 lies in its price, the total number of real cores, and the massive boost in overclocking. So if you are looking for high performance, at an economical price, the FX-9590 is a good investment, but if you want to settle for nothing less than the best, the 4960 is your processor of choice.
There are several processors designed for the mid-range user, who needs a workstation, which can handle a lot of multitasking workload. Here are two of the top mid-range chips from Intel and AMD, compared for your perusal.
AMD Phenom II X4 980 Vs. Intel Core i5-4440S
The AMD Phenom II X4 980 is a quad core processor, with a maximum clocking frequency of 3.7 GHz, with 2 MB L2 cache and 6 MB L3 cache. On the other hand, the second generation Intel core i5-i5-4440S is also a quad core processor, with a clock speed that can reach 3.3 GHz, with 6 MB of Intel Smart Cache. As various benchmark tests have revealed, the i5-4440S outperforms the AMD Phenom II X4, quite substantially in terms of single core and multicore performance. As many gamers have reported, the Intel chip definitely provides more bang for the buck.
Intel pretty much devoured the field when it introduced the Sandy Bridge processors, leaving AMD with too much ground to cover. It was obvious that AMD could not retaliate in one go, so they opted to take the slow-and-steady route out of the problem. They have promised to show decent improvements in their current line-up. Although the Bulldozer was a terrible failure, Piledriver and Steamroller put AMD back into the game. Only time will tell how their next installment, Excavator (ETA 2014), will do. Meanwhile, Intel already launched its 4th generation ‘Haswell’ on 2nd June, 2013. Things seem relatively breezy for Intel at the moment, with AMD providing little competition.
All in all, here is what you, the general customer, should do. If money is an issue, or if you like to overclock your machine to get superior results, choose AMD. If you can spend extra and really want that extra step ahead to improve your work-rate in video, images, and audio departments, choose Intel. There was a time when the competition was so tough that choosing either wouldn’t make too much of a difference. Neither company ever compromises on quality and provides excellent customer support. But the gap in performance was shocking when people compared Ivy Bridge to Bulldozer.
We can safely conclude, that right now, Intel is ahead of AMD in terms of technology and performance. However, AMD still has the distinction of offering ‘more for less’. Besides being an overclocker’s delight, it continues to provide affordable processors which provide superb performance. Otherwise, AMD is still outclassed in the high-end processor market, though not for long, as it is slowly creating a new niche for itself with its APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit).