Chip Wars 2020: What AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm Announced at CES
Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Advanced Micro Devices debuted some of their latest chips at the 2020 CES tech trade show in Las Vegas this week. In general, they’re faster and more power-efficient versions of existing technology, which should enable laptop makers to create even smaller devices that last longer on a charge. Some of the new chips, which have been in development for years, are already being used in devices coming out in the next few months, while others face a longer lead time.
Here’s what chip makers announced at CES:
Advanced Micro Devices
AMD CEO Lisa Su on Monday introduced new chips for laptops and desktop computers—and unlike some rivals, revealed their prices and when they would be available.
The biggest headlines went to AMD’s latest Ryzen Threadripper processing chip that are intended for desktop PCs for content creators, financial analysts, and other high-end customers. Containing 64 separate computing cores on one chip, the most ever in a consumer chip and double the number in last year’s Threadripper, the new chip will arrive on Feb. 7 at a price of almost $4,000 each. The many cores will make quick work of intensive tasks like encoding videos or crunching big data sets.
For laptops, AMD introduced the Ryzen 4000 Mobile line that can run at speeds up to 4.2 GHz. The company said the chips outperform comparable “Ice Lake” chips from Intel by as much as 90% on tasks like video rendering that use all of the computing cores in a chip. Those claims have yet to be tested by outside reviewers, however.
The press conference allowed Su to take a bit of victory lap for steering AMD through a rough patch to its current strong position, including a 150% stock price gain last year. She also talked about some of AMD’s chips outperforming those from rivals Intel and Nvidia.
Intel, the leading chipmaker for PCs and servers, had a tough 2019 after conceding that some new products would be delayed. It also suffered from supply shortages of some chips, which hurt sales during the busy holiday period.
So CEO Bob Swan, who took over from Brian Krzanich last year, didn’t have many specific new Intel products to showcase at CES. Instead, the company spent much of its stage time highlighting new devices from partners.
They included the high-end Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, one of the thinnest and most powerful such devices ever made. Another was a folding laptop from Lenovo called the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which can turn into a tablet-like device with a 13-inch screen or fold close to about half that size.
Intel also showed off its own prototype folding laptop, called Horseshoe Bend, which opened into a massive 17-inch screen. Intel isn’t going into the laptop business—rather, the device is intended to encourage innovation by PC makers.
In terms of chips, Intel made some claims about its upcoming Tiger Lake processing chips, which are for thin and light laptops. The chips will offer a “double digit” percentage point increase in performance over Intel’s current chips and contain support for Thunderbolt 4, a new, faster standard for connecting hard drives and other peripherals to computers. But the company didn’t provide many more details and said the chips would reach market at some unspecified time later this year.
Intel also showed off a laptop running its new separate graphics card chip, dubbed the DG1, playing the video game Destiny 2. But Intel didn’t say when the DG1 would hit the market or how much it would cost.
The leading maker of chips for mobile phones used its time at CES mostly to talk about its efforts to sell more chips in cars, particularly for self-driving vehicles.
Qualcomm introduced a set of chips for handling autonomous driving duties called the Snapdragon Driving Platform. The company also announced a service called Car-to-Cloud that will make it easier for automakers to send software updates to vehicles wirelessly.
Qualcomm, which is already a leading provider of chips to power infotainment systems in cars, said it expected its auto segment revenues to grow from $600 million last year to $1.5 billion by 2024. Qualcomm currently has annual revenue of around $20 billion.
Still reaping the benefits of the Turing graphic chip design it introduced in consumer graphics cards at last year’s CES, Nvidia focused its 2020 announcements on other areas.
One new offering is a large monitor aimed at video gamers who use desktop PCs. Made in conjunction with computer maker ASUS and called the ROG 360, the 24-inch monitor uses Nvidia’s G-Sync technology to refresh its screen at a rate of 360 Hz, or about six times more frequently than a standard monitor.
Nvidia also debuted a robot made by Toyota that runs on Nvidia’s chips. Called the T-HR3, the human-looking robot can be controlled by a human operator who is wearing virtual reality goggles and has linked controllers on their arms and legs.
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