While 2019 is going to be a stellar year for game releases, its also going to be an awesome year for hardware – something needs to power all the next-gen graphics, right? And of course, its going to be a battle between the two GPU giants, as well as Intel vs AMD in the CPU department.
It’s kind of funny, AMD battling two different companies on two separate fronts – though Intel will actually be joining the discrete GPU market by 2020. So in 2019, we’re going to have AMD vs NVIDIA for GPUs, and AMD vs Intel vs CPUs, but by 2020 we should be seeing AMD vs NVIDIA vs Intel in the GPU market. Sounds about right. Does that mean NVIDIA is going to start regretting agreeing to abandon the PC CPU market for a $1.5bn cashout from Intel (let’s be honest, the ‘settlement’ was a payment)? Probably not.
NVIDIA earns too much from GPUs, and they’re probably not the least bit worried about Intel delving into the GPU market – not worried enough to consider firing back by getting into the CPU market, at least. But hey, that’s pure speculation. Let’s look at some facts, and get into the upcoming hardware releases of 2019.
For starters, we know NVIDIA’s latest RTX series of graphics cards was a bit… underwhelming. The promise of a ray-tracing enabled future has done very little to make gamers salivate today. We mean, ray tracing be darned, we’re still enjoying Shell Shockers in a browser. It’s a very niche market that can afford $800+ GPUs, and an even nichier market of developers taking advantage of the technology.
If anyone can swoop in and promise the same kind of technology at a reduced price, its AMD. Actually, they’re the only ones who can do it, considering the market duopoly – but its pretty much exactly what they’re going to do.
Thus, on the heels of the NVIDIA RTX series, AMD is working on its Navi architecture for 2019. In fact, there’s a ton of rumours flying around this – the most prominent being that AMD will officially announce its Navi-enabled architecture cards, under the Radeon RX 3000 banner, at CES 2019. This is going to be a direct response to NVIDIA’s RTX 2000-series.
The first card will allegedly be the RX 3080, and pack 8GB of GDDR6 memory, with a TDP of just 150w, and have comparable performance to the RTX 2070. And in dramatic AMD fashion, they’ll be releasing this card around the $250 ~ $300 price, which is about half the price of the RTX 2070.
NVIDIA doesn’t seem scared, however – they’re content being the “premium” GPU developers, and allowing AMD to target the budget gamers. And while AMD shows spirited competition, it doesn’t seem they want to adopt the same business model as NVIDIA – that is, releasing hugely priced GPUs with technology intended for tomorrow, today.
So, 2019 in the GPU market is going to be more of 2017 and 2018 – NVIDIA wowing us with GPU series that nobody can really afford, and mid-range GPUs that are amazing but still a bit costly, and AMD doing a great job of playing catch-up with GPUs that people can afford, but aren’t nearly as good. Is this all going to change in 2020, when Intel joins the discrete GPU market? Maybe – but this article is focused on 2019.
As for the CPU market, well, that’s a whole different ball game. Its very possible AMD is going to completely blow the competition away with their 7nm CPUs. This is partially because Intel’s own 10nm processors, codenamed Cannon Lake, have met delay after delay – even leading to them denying that the architecture was abandoned altogether. We’re very likely not going to see Intel’s Cannon Lake architecture until late 2019, or possibly even 2020, to coincide with their GPU release.
Meanwhile, AMD is on the right track with their 7nm Zen 2 architecture, having already released the “Rome” Epyc-series server CPUs just this past November. The Epyc-series CPUs of course were not consumer-targeted, but if they can manage to adopt the technology into their Ryzen 3000-series GPUs, Intel will have nothing to retaliate with, not immediately and not for the foreseeable future. Which means its highly likely AMD will be announcing the new series of Ryzen CPUs at CES 2019, and Intel will be knocked off the throne they’ve sat upon for over a decade.
If this is the case, its actually kind of smart for Intel to try and jump into the GPU market – AMD is surely going to dominate the CPU market in the year(s) to come, and Intel does not want to become to CPUs what AMD is to GPUs. So why not bring the fight to the GPU market as well?
It’s a bold strategy – if that is indeed their strategy. We’re speculating, of course. But if predictions are true, and Intel unveils a discrete GPU at CES 2019, you can bet they’re going to showcase something that can compete with NVIDIA’s high-end series. If you’re going to enter the GPU market, you might as well come out both barrels blazing, right? Of course, we’re not sure how Intel is going to convince us of their GPU worthiness, after their onboard graphics have been a laughing-stock for years. So we’re actually kind of excited to be proven wrong – please prove us wrong, Intel!
No matter what happens, 2019 is going to be an extremely interesting year for the hardware market.