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Why the AMD-Intel Battle Is Good for All of Us

August 31, 2017, 1:38 PM UTC

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Another day, another stunning microprocessor announcement. Good morning, Aaron in for Adam.

Advanced Micro Devices is unveiling its Ryzen Pro line of CPU chips today in an industry that seems to be trying to set a world record for segmenting its customers. AMD says the new chips, which are aimed at high-performance desktop workstations, are “up to 62%” faster than “select competing products” at tasks like encoding video and rendering 3-D pictures.

Of course, Intel announced its own line of revamped workstation CPUs, called the Xeon W series, just on Tuesday. And that’s no coincidence. The two chip makers have been slugging it out with dueling debuts all year long.

AMD started with the basic Ryzen CPU line for desktops, then brought forth its Epyc chip for servers, followed by a souped-up super Ryzen called Threadripper, then a graphics chip called Vega and now the Ryzen Pro. Still to come are laptop chips that combine Ryzen and Vega. All are the fruits of several years of crash development under CEO Lisa Su to restore AMD to its former glory as a strong and innovative #2 supplier in the PC market.

Intel (INTC) has chosen to compete by going tit-for-tat, matching every announcement from AMD with one of its own, but usually with a longer delay until its chips reach market. AMD’s (AMD) Threadripper that went on sale this month has 16 cores? A new Core i9 Extreme Edition from Intel will have 18 cores, but won’t arrive until October. Tuesday’s spec-release by Intel of its W-series, which won’t arrive until the fourth quarter, had some observers complaining all the company had done was repackage some of its Xeon server chips in new boxes.

“Significant work was done to redo the box art to add a -W to the mix and put the word workstation on too, it is longer than server so many marketing dollars were spent,” the chip news site Semiaccurate opined. “Luckily for humanity the job was accomplished with minimal loss of life.”

In the end, the revived competition will be good for all of us. We get more computing power at a lower cost sooner. But that doesn’t mean every new release is a game changer.