Thread: Computers
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:03 PM   #1
sonicchaos1993
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Default Computers

As many of you might now, somewhat recently I posted a review of one of the new AMD "Llano" mobile processors, and of the laptop that used it. During my search for a new laptop, which lead me to purchase the one I did, I did a lot of research on computer hardware and was really interested by some of the new things being created by companies like Intel and AMD. This thread is for all discussion of computer hardware--Intel vs. AMD, discussion on individual computer components, help with purchasing a new computer, or even just showing off the computers you're using.

Me? I'm mostly using my new laptop when computing. It's a Gateway NV55S05, with a AMD A8-3500M CPU, integrated AMD Radeon HD 6620G graphics, 6GB RAM, a 640GB hard drive, and a shade of white that's even brighter than a Mac. (I'm serious, they've done tests)

The two things I've been most intrigued by during my research into hardware have been Intel vs. AMD and, in particular, AMD's new APU chips. As far as Intel vs. AMD goes, I find myself disliking Intel due to their attempts to put AMD out of business several years ago. However, I do realize that their chips run circles around AMD as far as pure CPU performance goes.

I really like the path AMD is taking, however. In my opinion, probably only about 5% of computer users need the power of a modern Intel core i7. In fact, most computer users probably don't even need the power of an i5. But, we instinctively want the best, and, unfortunately, the best is REALLY expensive and we don't actually need it. AMD's new processors, with the amazing integrated graphics, ultimately end up running circles around Intel chips. GPU power is an area that budget computers haven't had for years, due to horrible integrated graphics. AMD's current A8 processors, which are reasonably priced, have a perfect balance of GPU power and CPU power. Although the CPU is very underwhelming, it doesn't bottleneck the computer's performance. It doesn't have obnoxious levels of power that are wasted due to the GPU performance. To use a simple benchmark, Windows 7 Experience Index rates the A8-3500 in my laptop (the lowest end model of A8 processors) as a 6.6 in CPU power and a 6.6 in gaming graphics. Neither the CPU or the GPU ends up bottlenecking the performance of the other.

The big question about APUs, however, is what Intel's response will be. Laptop makers understand what these APUs can do. For the price of a laptop with a core i3 processor, a laptop with an A8-3500 offers GPU performance on par with a middle-class graphics card and better CPU performance. A laptop outfitted with an A8 can make a low-end gaming machine for less than $600. Intel has to answer this somehow. Currently, only a high-end i5's and i7's, both very expensive, are typically used with dedicated graphics cards that offer GPU performance on par or better than AMD A8's. AMD is continuing to grow, and their recent chips have been very successful. Rumors of a merger with Apple have surfaced. Intel cannot continue to boost CPU speed. Their chips are already faster than they need to be. If they do, AMD's APU's will eventually take the lead in the computer industry. Intel will have to start putting more money into graphics research, which means less money into the CPU part of the chips. Meanwhile, AMD, whose graphics technology is years ahead of Intel's, will continue to improve on their APU's. With Intel spending less on CPU speed, AMD chips will start to gain ground on Intel in that category. Intel is left with a difficult choice. They can continue to focus on graphics in an effort to compete with AMD APU's, but at the cost of sacrificing their main advantage in CPU speed, or they can abandon graphics research and go back to boosting CPU speed, which makes Intel an option only for users who require a lot of CPU performance.

Now, this entire process may not happen, and if it does happen, it will take years to occur. But one thing is for certain: If Intel doesn't start working on better GPU performance now, AMD APU's will become the processor of choice for cheaper and mainstream computers.
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