HW News - Intel Gains Market Share vs. AMD, Xbox Series X & PS5 Sales, Apple M1 vs. Intel

By Steve Burke, Patrick Lathan, Keegan Gallick, Eric Hamilton Published February 09, 2021 at 9:03 am

This round of HW News mostly features a broad focus on the industry at large and PC-centric adjacent areas, such as consoles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have news that both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will remain elusive, owing in least part to overwhelming demand; however, the emerging semiconductor shortages appear to be playing an increasingly bigger role.

Moving on, Mercury Research has its CPU market share report for Q4’2020 available, and highlights some interesting points. Along the same lines, Steam’s latest hardware survey for January 2021 has also arrived with at least one interesting find. Elsewhere, we have Corsair with a PSU recall, some new developments within Google’s Stadia, and more. 

At GN, we’ve spent the majority of our time investigating NZXT’s H1 case. Our coverage started with our video demonstrating how the H1 could catch fire, and after further investigation, we determined that the PCIe riser posed long term risk that NZXT was not addressing. In the time since, NZXT has formally responded to GN’s H1 coverage and has plans for recalls and PCIe riser assembly replacements.  

02:09 | Intel Gains Marketshare Despite AMD Technology

Mercury Research just reported CPU marketshare distribution change over the past quarter. The third-party’s research indicates an 81% share in mobile CPUs for 4Q20 for Intel, up from 79.8% in 3Q20. Additionally, 4Q20 desktop CPU share outside of IoT devices gained to 80.7% from 79.9% in 3Q20, and server CPU share fell to 92.9% in 4Q20 from 93.4% in 3Q20.

AMD appears to have made ground in server marketshare, gaining about half a point, while losing about 0.8 points in desktop CPUs and 1.2 points in mobile CPUs.

AMD may be a victim of its own success, here: The company has several competitive products, but is splitting its third-party silicon supply (all from TSMC) between CPUs, GPUs, and semi-custom orders, including the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The PS5 alone commanded 4.5 million SOCs from AMD in 2020. There isn’t infinite supply, and TSMC has other customers for 7nm.

Intel’s market position has strengthened overall. The company hasn’t grown at the same pace as its competitors, but also has less room to grow. As AMD’s console obligations slow, it’s likely to return fire in the CPU space by ramping Zen production.

Source: Mercury Research

05:48 | Not a “Paper Launch” - AMD Ships 1 Million Zen 3 CPUs

In the same Mercury Research report, as aggregated by PC Mag, AMD’s own numbers came to light: The company shipped nearly 1,000,000 Ryzen 5000 CPUs last year. Yes, despite all of the comments that yell at us whenever we review a new CPU or GPU, people are in fact able to benefit from those reviews and make purchasing decisions.

Like we have been saying since the RTX 30-series launch, it’s demand that’s the issue. Although, we did make fun of paper launches in our Disappointment Build, so maybe we accidentally foretold the prophecy. Last year provided a perfect storm of high-end, exciting hardware launches with abnormally high demand for desktops, particularly as people set up new home offices or needed to accommodate educational needs without access to shared resources.

Mercury Research stated the following: “It's really just a case of demand far outstripping supply, which is pretty much universal for most CPUs right now.”

Based on the numbers in the previous story, it looks like Intel is still out-producing AMD, but both companies are selling through inventory. Last week, we reported on how AMD expects to face difficulty meeting Ryzen 5000 demand through the second half of 2021.

Source: PC Mag via Mercury Research

08:05 | Intel Wants to Know How Many Soldiers Apple Can Render

Intel published a slide deck comparing several PC products to Apple’s M1 MacBook Pro. We’re mostly interested in slides two through four, where benchmarks are used to demonstrate the capabilities of a white-box i7-1185G7 16GB system (with Iris Xe Graphics) versus a Macbook Pro M1 16GB. That’s right, benchmarks, regardless of former CEO Bob Swan’s opinion on the subject.

Apple’s M1 is an ARM-based SoC, making software-based comparisons to Intel’s CPUs difficult--the M1 only allows running older x86 macOS programs through an emulator, not to mention the difficulties of running Windows programs on macOS. Intel used native macOS software for testing, either new “Universal” versions or x86 versions run through the Rosetta 2 emulator.

The presentation leads off with a Chrome web benchmark suite developed by our former... “friends” at Principled Technologies, who previously disabled half the cores on AMD CPUs for comparative benchmarks. The Chrome web benchmarks show Intel in the lead for nearly every category except “Online Homework.”That’s followed by Office 365 tests, which show a universally huge lead for Intel. They’ve managed to jam all of these benchmarks results on one chart by scoring performance relative to the M1, so that the M1’s score is always “1” and Intel’s score is expressed as a percentage of that. The next slide covering Handbrake, Topaz Labs, and Adobe products uses the same strategy, but Intel has made an effort to be fair here by using the M1-native version of Premiere.

The next slide is the good stuff: game benchmarks. Intel selected five macOS-compatible games for testing, one of them being Total War: Three Kingdoms, where its system beat the M1 at 60.6FPS to Apple’s 46.6FPS AVG. This leaves us a little confused, because we only know how to measure benchmark performance in how many soldiers a processor can render. Intel chose to use FPS averages for this chart rather than relative soldier-rendering performance, and the result is a weirdly mixed bag, with Intel basically tying Apple in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Borderlands 3, winning massively in the extremely relevant Shadow of Mordor from 2014, and losing significantly in Hitman from 2016. Intel then went on to chart several more bars’ worth of games that don’t run at all on the M1, followed by an ellipsis labeled “countless more” to represent every other game on earth. It’s a glib way of showing it, but Intel systems definitely do have wider compatibility with video games than Macs, M1 or otherwise.

AMD, naturally, was absent.

Source: Direct slides from Intel [Tom’s has images of slide deck]

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-fires-back-at-apple-m1-processors-with-benchmarks

12:53 | Galax Sweeps Hall of Fame Leaderboards

Galax’s team overclockers recently took several of the Hall of Fame Top 5 scores for Port Royal, trading back-and-forth with EVGA’s lonewolf KINGPIN. The current single-card and dual-card leader in Port Royal is OGS, whom we’ve connected with directly to learn about this shake-up that has at least temporarily dislodged KINGPIN 3090 cards from the top spots. Galax currently holds first, second, third, and fourth position for the single-card Port Royal scores, with the dual-card first also belonging to Galax, but dual-card ranks 2, 3, and 4 belong to KINGPIN users. Contrary to some suggestions that only two Galax HOF cards exist and are being passed around, there are at least 5 distinct device IDs being used for these positions. In fact, sharing the same hardware between multiple accounts is a bannable offense on HWBot.

Right now, it seems that the KINGPIN cards have some serious competition from Galax. This is noteworthy because the EVGA KINGPIN cards are often the leaders of each category at the end of a generation, but have been facing fierce challenges from Galax over the last two generations.

In speaking with OGS, we learned that the devices aren’t hand-binned and that the advantage is primarily a benefit of being able to run full pot due to better thermal interface contact. We were told that there are also other tricks, but don’t yet know the details.

If there’s interest, GN may look into getting one of these cards to re-enter the leaderboard competition. We haven’t done any competitive overclocking since the EVGA stream previously.

Source: 3DMark HOF & GN (https://www.3dmark.com/hall-of-fame-2/port+royal+3dmark+score+performance+preset/version+1.0/2+gpu)

16:19 | Xbox Series X Does $5B in 4Q20, Low Supply through June

As it relates to Microsoft's hardware, Microsoft had previously said that supply would be tight through April. However, a new statement from Mike Spencer, head of investor relations at Microsoft, suggests that the wait could be longer.

In talking to The New York Times, Spencer said that Microsoft sold every console it had manufactured last quarter, and that supplies would remain tight through at least June. Spencer also noted that Microsoft’s gaming division notched $5 billion for the quarter, which is a first for the company.

In addition to insane demand, new consoles are also the target of resellers, scapers, and bots.       

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/1/22260564/microsoft-xbox-series-x-stock-june-supply-constraints

16:57 | Surprise, Semiconductor Shortages Hit PS5   

Moving onto Sony and its PS5, Sony has offered public commentary regarding PS5 shortages, although it isn’t exactly illuminating information if you’ve been following the industry as of late. 

In its most recent earnings report, Sony divulged that it shipped 4.5 million PS5 units -- or as our commenters would call it, a “paper launch.” As expected, Sony also recorded a loss from “strategic price points” for the PS5; which is to say, it took a loss-leader approach to pricing. This has often been the norm for new consoles, as companies like Sony and Microsoft have leaned on first-party games and software licensing to offset the loss. Now, both Microsoft and Sony will push their respective subscription services to prop-up profit margins.

Sony also noted that consumers shouldn’t expect an increase in PS5 production, and supply is going to continue to be constrained. 

"It is difficult for us to increase production of the PS5 amid the shortage of semiconductors and other components. We have not been able to fully meet the high level of demand from customers [but] we continue to do everything in our power to ship as many units as possible to customers who are waiting for a PS5,” Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said. 

The increasingly persistent silicon and silicon component shortages have been well-documented, affecting everything from PCBs and substrates, all the way to automotive chips and potentially smartphone SoCs. It’s also safe to assume that Microsoft will also have a hard time with its own Xbox Series X|S manufacturing, as both Sony and Microsoft rely on semi-custom AMD silicon built at TSMC.     

Source: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/02/sony-shipped-4-5m-ps5s-in-2020-but-is-struggling-to-speed-up-production/

18:54 | Corsair Notice on Some HX1200 PSUs 

Corsair has posted a notice that some of its upper-shelf power supplies are affected by a non-damaging boot compatibility issue. The affected models belong to a small subset of lot codes for the Corsair HX1200 and HX1200i. Notably, this is not technically a recall, although the company is asking for the affected power supplies to be sent back in order to replace them with known-good units. The issue mostly applies to retail partners.

Corsair posted the following on its forum: “We have recently discovered an issue affecting select units of our HX1200 and HX1200i Series power supplies. Affected units may exhibit compatibility issues with some motherboards - the issue will typically manifest immediately, or shortly after, installation and presents as connected motherboards failing to POST.”

“The issue has zero risk of damaging end-user hardware, but we are mindful of the negative user experience this may cause for customers and wish to avoid it if at all possible, especially as the issue is not consistent across all motherboards and can be difficult to diagnose.”

According to Corsair, units with lot codes of 2030xxxx to 2041xxxx and sold after July 20th, 2020, are affected. For the lot codes, the first two digits represent the year (2020), and the second pair of digits represent the week within that year -- week 30 thru week 41, in this case. The last four digits are a manufacturer code. So, if you own a Corsair HX1200 or HX1200i, and the lot code begins with 2030 to 2041, get in touch with Corsair.

Corsair notes that HX1200/1200i units purchased before July 20th, 2020, are not affected by this issue, nor does this issue affect any other Corsair PSU line.

The company emphasized that this is not a formal recall and that this has no chance of damaging hardware, and just that it’s a difficult-to-diagnose boot compatibility issue.

Source: https://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=201807

21:13 | Corsair Wins Lawsuit Against Valve

As if Valve hadn’t suffered enough from selling its Steam Link and Steam Controller for a dollar previously, Corsair has now taken them for another $4 million over the design. The battle was fought in the Western District of Washington in Seattle where the jury found in favor of Ironburg Inventions. Ironburg is now a Corsair subsidiary, having been acquired alongside Scuf Gaming, and after Ironberg Inventions had begun legal proceedings against Valve. Ironberg’s claim was that Valve had infringed on patent #8641525 -- a detailed schematic that features circles which are almost round for a gaming controller. The key point appears to be the inputs on the back of the controller. Looking at the patent information, it’s easy to see why this was ruled in Corsair’s favor: Just look at that draftsmanship.

If you’ll excuse us, we have some MS Paint drawings to submit to the USPTO.

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/02/02/2168636/0/en/Corsair-announces-favorable-verdict-in-Ironburg-Inventions-Ltd-v-Valve-Corp.html

Host, Writing: Steve Burke
Writing: Patrick Lathan, Keegan Gallick, Eric Hamilton
Video: Keegan Gallick, Andrew Coleman

Last modified on February 09, 2021 at 9:03 am

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