Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Okay, forgive the pun title, I thought it was funny. But it's also true in a way. Anyway, this post isn't a proper Tech Babble (yet) but more of a simple "Sash's thoughts on the subject" post, or more accurately "Sash Rants on the subject". And it's about everyone's favourite Monopolistic CPU company, Intel.
Okay, firstly, if you're sensitive about Intel, you're financially invested, or you're a die-hard fanboy/leet gamer that absolutely needs that 5% higher average FPS at the cost of anything, please don't read this. You'll just get triggered.
This post is mainly for me to vent my frustration and anger at a company that I still feel is a blight on the CPU industry especially with regards to accessability to the masses.
With that out of the way, I will begin. Okay, there is a lot for me to type here. You may have already noticed I really don't like Intel as a company. You can read something to that end, here. I didn't really want to get into this and type a huge amount, but I think it might just end up being that way.
Bleh. I better get started, so I will break down my thoughts into some smaller sections:
Not to type a huge amount about this, but it's common knowledge now that Intel abused its position back in the Athlon 64 days, to essentially pay OEMs to not use AMD products (that were at the time, objectively superior in many aspects). Lest we never forget that Intel apparently had no issue with doing that, in the pursuit of those delicious monies. Now, AMD is also guilty of charging huge prices when they have a good product, (not to forget the top tier Athlons, oh and the FX-9590, but we don't talk about that...). With this on their record, I don't trust this company at all to play fair even when they have a serious disadvantage in technology and products... Oh, like they do right now. I operate on a one-strike basis. Intel may have changed (note: may) a lot since then but this also brings me onto further points...
Oh boy. I don't need to say a lot on this subject. Just take the entire time between 2011 (Sandy Bridge) and mid-late 2017 (Coffee Lake) and there you go. And no, I don't really care about the 6, 8 and 10-core CPUs that they introduced in 2014-2015, because aside from maybe the i7-5820K, they were all priced obnoxiously high. The 'Mainstream' desktop, (you know, the segment where the 'every day' folk buy parts) just got slapped with the same quad-core crap, year on year - with features taken away (solder?) and the same product segmentation across the board. But hey, you got that 3% higher performance each generation right?
Slowing down advancement of technology for the consumer is a crime I hold against intel with a passion. Human advancement only happens when the masses have access to the latest technological advancements and innovations. Intel chose to maximise profits in this time, and even the argument that they were simply "funding further development" doesn't hold much weight here. Why? Because during all this time, that "Funding" was never, ever passed down to the consumer in better products. Only when AMD came along with Zen in 2017, did Intel then finally give you 2 more cores on the mainstream desktop. But only because they had no choice.
Why does this matter? It matters because cheap high performance processors unlocks a whole new age of content creators, streamers, developers - on a budget. Not just limited to the 'elite' that can afford Intel's Premium Tax.
When AMD couldn't compete in high performance at all, with Bulldozer-based CPUs, Intel was pretty happy to just let their product performance do all the talking. I have no direct issue with this, and everyone knew - AMD just wasn't providing the same high performance. But, come 2017, when AMD first launched its "Zen" CPU architecutre, it became clear that they can very well compete - right at the top.
So that brings me to the Deceit part of this rant. When it was clear AMD's products could very well deliver the same high performance that Intel had enjoyed dominance for (and as a result stagnated, read above), Intel could no longer rely on its product merit alone to drive their sales.
So they started employing decietful marketing tactics, and sometimes borderline lying about their products in the one area where AMD's Zen was still not quite on the same level: gaming. I'm of course first refering to the "9900K is 50% faster than the 2700X" Debacle. In case you didn't know what that is, they employed a study by a company called "Principled Technologies" (ironic name) and they essentially crippled the 2700X in order to make the 9900K artifically significantly faster. I won't type about this here, but you can go google that to find out the details.
Intel has been conducting a marketing campaign to gamers, specifically, because it is the only, tiny thing their CPUs were still relevant for. The 9900K's marketing material is essentially entirely focused on gaming. When I was looking for a recent slide (more on that in a moment) that Intel had released, I came across an advert for their 'new' 9900KS processor:
I'm sorry, but this statement above 'leadership on the desktop' is borderline a flat-out lie. If you consider maximum possible gaming Frame Rate on the desktop, with disregard to price inflation, inferior feature set, no upgradability, and of course the fact that the 'advantage' is only in the single-digit percent for the most part, then I guess they could get away with saying they have that leadership.
But it doesn't sit well with me. This piece of advertising is exactly what I wanted to state. Intel is desperate, and they absolutely have to appeal to the small subset of gamers who beleive this garbage to hold on to any kind of relevance in the desktop. But even that is sliding away. A recent rumour even suggested Intel has canned its 'next generation' processors on the troubled 10nm process, in favour of mobile only. So much for leadership on the desktop, Intel.
This is basicallty what I wanted to talk about. The centrepiece of why I wanted to type this in the first place. I knew about this slide for a couple of days but now I want to type something about it.
This slide is pretty amusing, actually. This slide essentially tells us that Intel can't compete technologically, it cannot compete on product merit, but it can compete... on having a ton of cash (I could even make the statement that all this cash was gained through the practicises mentioned above). Intel can easily afford to discount its products by $3 billion(!), doesn't that tell you just how much they were 'creaming' the industry before now?
So, in a nutshell this slide tells me that Intel is getting its butt kicked by a company that has an order of magnitude less money and resources to throw at research and development. This is testament to AMD's engineers, their talent and of course, Dr. Lisa Su, who has held the ship together and brought AMD back into the game.
But my biggest worry with this slide, if Intel has that much cash to throw around, then what's to stop them from playing dirty again? Intel's big bucks are at stake and if history has taught us anything about this company, it's that they don't have any moral grounds to stand on.
With no new game-changing products for Desktop (and no, I don't consider 14nm++++ Comet Lake a 'game changing' product). until 2022, Intel's technological inferiority is going to get worse, their products, at current pricing levels, are going to become irrelevant. And Intel's management no doubt know this. Will Intel lose its creaming, or will they play dirty? And it's funny, because with the 'Cascade Lake' leak a while ago, the pricing has reduced by a thousand dollars from the previous generation and even that isn't enough to make them particularly attractive over the prospect of the $750 Ryzen 9 3950X, on a significantly lower cost platform (unless you absolutely need QC memory or AVX512, the former of which you can simply wait for Threadripper 3.).
If the recently rumoured Threadripper 24-core starts at a thousand dollars, even this huge reduction in pricing won't be enough to save 'Cascade Lake' from irrelevance on the HEDT.