We will remember 2020 for all the wrong reasons, but on a lighter note, 2020 has been quite the year… for silicon!
- The incredible performance of Apple’s M1 and A14 (@ 5m).
- AMD crushing Intel with its Ryzen 5000 series CPUs (@ 7nm).
- The neck-and-neck race between the AMD Radeon (@ 7nm) and Nvidia RTX.
- The launch of next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
These two are poised to be the giants in the upcoming wave(s) of next-gen computers (notebooks, desktops, servers), consoles (PS5 and XBox both use AMD, Nintendo uses NVidia Tegra), embedded devices (mobiles, TVs, cameras), AI/ML powered devices (IoT sensors, self-driving cars, face detecting cameras) and more!
- November 2020: AMD Radeon RX 6000-series RDNA 2 architecture GPUs with SAM
- October 2020: Intel Iris Xe, their first discrete GPU
- September 2020: Nvidia RTX 30-series Ampere architecture GPUs (many people seem to refer to the RTX 3000 series instead)
- TechTesters EU has a benchmarks of the new Radeon RX 6800 / 6800 XT as does Gamers Nexus for XT model - benchmarks vary widely, but it seems RX 6800 / 6800 XT places between Nvidia’s RTX 3070 and RTX 3080. Of course features like Ray Tracing and application support do vary...
- Tom’s Hardware says Intel's Iris Xe Max GPU Barely Beats Nvidia's GeForce MX330 In Latest Benchmark - the Xe is beaten by AMD’s Radeon RX 550X from end 2018 and latest Nvidia’s entry-level GeForce MX330.
- October-November 2020: AMD Ryzen 5000-series Zen 3 architecture 7nm CPUs (supported by the X570 and B550 chipsets) - taking the performance crown from Intel
- September 2020: Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake for notebooks
- July 2020: Intel Lakefield for mobiles (and next year’s Alder Lake for desktop’s - borrowing the hybrid architecture approach akin to Arm's “big.LITTLE”
- May 2020: Intel Comet Lake Core i9-10x00K series - expensive and disappointing.
- Ars Technica tells A history of Intel vs. AMD desktop performance, with CPU charts galore
- Tom’s Hardware has early benchmarks, Tiger Lake Tested: We Benchmark Intel’s Latest With Iris Xe Graphics and 10nm SuperFin - TL;DR “Tiger Lake… appears to be competitive with AMD’s top-end Ryzen 7 4800U… at least when it comes to single-core workloads. With multi-core workloads, AMD still has the advantage on its top-end part, with double the cores and threads.”
APUs / SOCs
- November 2020: Apple’s Arm-based M1 5nm SoC in the 2020 MacBook Pro, Air and Mini, incredible performance even with x86 emulation.
- October 2020: Apple's ARM-based A14 in the iPhone 12 series - the first widely available, consumer 5nm chip!
- May 2020: Arm Cortex A78 and Cortex X1, and Mali G78, like the Samsung Exynos 1080.
- March 2020: Apple’s Arm-based A12Z from the iPad Pro (2020)
- March 2020: AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000-series Zen 2 architecture APUs for notebooks
- MacRumors: A12Z vs. A14: Which Apple Chip is Better? - GeekBench 5 benchmarks put the A14 at 30% faster for single-core, but the A12Z at 15% faster for multi-core plus 20% faster in terms of its GPU
- AnadTech has an in-depth report with benchmarks, The 2020 Mac Mini Unleashed: Putting Apple Silicon M1 To The Test
Launches within days of each other!
- November 2020: Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S use custom implementations of AMD‘s Zen 2 CPU and Radeon RDNA 2 GPU (@ 12.15 and 4 TFLOPS respectively).
- November 2020: Sony PlayStation 5 again featuring - surprise! - custom implementations of AMD’s Zen 2 CPU and Radeon RDNA 2 GPU (@ 10.28 TFLOPs).
- The Verge has a specs comparison against the PS5 - Xbox Series X and S: everything you need to know about the next gen of Xbox
Not to mention embedded / small form factor devices like Nvidia Jetson Nano, Raspberry Pi 4, and so on launched this year...
Plus a myriad of high-end and enterprise announcements at Hot Chips 2020 (August 2020), e.g. Arm Neoverse N1 and N2 for servers, e.g. as implemented in Amazon’s Graviton2 64-core CPU, Open Source RISC-V architecture as implemented by Alibaba Xuantie-910 CPU and IBM Power implementations as a result of the OpenPOWER initiative.
Updated 27 Nov 2020: Apparently AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs, Radeon 6000 GPUs and Nvidia RTX-30 GPUs are not available seemingly anywhere. Well, in that case, 2020 is a year for sillicon announcements... but not availability!