HW News - Stadia vs. GeForce Now, 'AMD Lost vs. Intel,' & Intel CPU Updates

By Published February 09, 2020 at 2:28 am
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We've received a loaner AMD Threadripper 3990X to work with for an upcoming review, but we also will be streaming with the CPU for multiple overclocking efforts. In the meantime, hardware news is still pushing ahead. News on Intel CPU refreshes, AMD x86 marketshare reports, market analysis on AMD's positioning, and more.

Show notes continue after the embedded video.

AMD 3990X LN2 Livestream

For those who don’t follow our YouTube coverage (you should!), we recently lapped an AMD Threadripper 3970X, and now we’re preparing to do an XOC stream with an AMD 3990X 64-core CPU. The stream will be Sunday, 2/9 (today) at 1PM EST. Check our YouTube channel at the time for the link, or head over to twitter.

AMD Has Lost, Says Analyst Who Probably Cost Investors Money

Daniel Newman, the principal analyst at Futurum Research, has attempted a hot take in his recent opinion piece over at MarketWatch. There’s a lot to unpack in the article, which for the most part, is demonstrably false. So, we’ll just go with a few of our favorites; Newman’s greatest hits, if you will.

The title reads “Why AMD’s best days are behind it” and should really tell readers what they need to know about the following paragraphs. We could make the argument that AMD’s worst days are behind it -- you know, the ones where the company was staving off bankruptcy following uncompetitive products during its Bulldozer era and massive revenue declines. The days where AMD had to sell its campus and lease it back just for a temporary cash injection. After Bulldozer, AMD’s story became one of survival. After the massive comeback that was Zen, AMD’s best days are likely still in front of it.

Moving on to the subheading: “AMD had a shot to catch Intel and blew it,” says Newman. AMD doesn’t need to catch Intel; it’s readily apparent that the disparity in the size of these two chipmakers is lost on Newman. AMD is a company with a 59.04B market cap, while Intel boasts a 285.55B cap -- AMD can’t “catch” Intel in three years time. Or, more specifically, inside of the ~18 month window “when its chip-making rival was wounded,” as Newman puts it. 

As we talked about last week, and as we further elaborate on later, AMD continues to win back x86 CPU market share. AMD currently holds both a technology and process node lead over Intel. Furthermore, Newman’s comments that Epyc “should have made significant gains in servers” and that AMD “made only a few small dents” in Intel’s business are utterly inept. 

AMD has effectively gone from zero to approaching a 5% market share in the server segment -- that is a significant gain for a company like AMD who operates at a fraction of Intel’s R&D budget. Newman fails to look at this realistically. Consider that Intel earns more in one quarter than AMD nets all year, and you begin to see the uphill battle AMD has faced in recent years. These wins mean a lot for a relatively small company like AMD, and its record earnings in 2019 effectively illustrate that.   

“Now Intel is shoring up production, announcing lower pricing, updating its data center chips, introducing 5G PCs and expanding to be far more than a chip company,” Newman says of Intel. Intel has been shoring up production for over a year now -- and it still hasn’t rectified its pervasive 14nm shortage. In fact, some of its customers are predicting those shortages will persist for most of 2020. Despite AMD’s own troubles anticipating demand and securing wafers, it continues to ship products when Intel can’t.

Additionally, Intel’s lower pricing and “updated data center chips” are a direct response to AMD’s Epyc and Threadripper. Newman extols Intel for being “back on track” when he should praise AMD for ending the near-monopoly Intel has had for years. Newman also seemingly glosses over all of Intel’s security vulnerabilities, which have become weekly at this point. Ask the server vendors how those mitigations have affected them.    

“I believe Intel is now the firm better positioned to deliver the sales and profitability investors are looking for. That’s bad news for those holding AMD stock — and many have yet to realize just how bad that will be,” concludes Newman. Yeah, if only Newman could’ve had the same foresight before publishing this article. Newman is also the same analyst who warned investors to be skeptical of AMD’s stock price last year when it was trading for ~$30 per share. That same stock is trading for over ~$50 per share as of this writing. So, at the very least, Newman is likely used to eating his own words by now.   

Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-amds-best-days-are-behind-it-2020-02-06

Flashpoint Is Preserving Old Flash Games and Animations 

For those who cut their computing teeth on CRT monitors and beige colored everything, then you likely remember the advent of a little technology called Flash -- even at a time when it was a Macromedia product, and before that, a FutureWave product. This was before Adobe acquired half of the internet. It was a different time. 

Once upon a time, the internet was made up of boring static web pages, and it required Flash to add multimedia and interactivity for things such as video, audio, animations and games. Even YouTube used Flash in its early days for compressed video. 

Anyway, Flash is set to go EOL this year, as the deprecated platform has long been outshined by newer web APIs and HTML 5. However, Flash has been dying a slow death for years now. Browser support has slowly faded to becoming all but non-existent these days, and search engines like Google won’t even index results with Flash content anymore. Even Adobe more or less washed its hands of Flash when it introduced Adobe Animate. It’s been one slow nail in the coffin after another.

As with so many technologies that vanish from the internet, a sizable history from a different time in computing vanishes with them. Love it or hate it, Flash defined an internet era, and when it dies, so do thousands of games and animations. That’s exactly what BlueMaxima is trying to prevent with Flashpoint. To date, Flashpoint has scrapped the internet to archive 38,000 Flash games and 2,400 animations.

Flashpoint uses an open-source launcher and a few tricks to emulate old Flash browser games. The lauchner currently comes packaged either as a stand-alone application, where you download the games as you want to play them, or as a complete package where all games are playable offline. Since we’re here, we might as well direct your attention to another Flash preservation project, Ruffle, which is ongoing.        

Source: https://www.pcgamer.com/thousands-of-old-flash-games-have-been-saved-from-obsolescence/

https://bluemaxima.org/flashpoint/

Nvidia GeForce Now Finally Exits Beta

GeForce Now, Nvidia’s cloud gaming platform, officially left beta this week. It was a somewhat quiet launch, compared to how Nvidia usually prefers to launch products and services -- you know, leather jackets blazing. 

While it's already being compared (favorably) to Google Stadia, it’s worth mentioning that this service has been in beta in some form or another since 2013. GeForce Now was born out of the ashes of the Nvidia Grid beta, which was intended as a game streaming service for Shield devices. Nvidia Grid never really took off, and it morphed into GeForce Now. GeForce Now was once again being aimed at Shield devices first, leaving beta in 2015.

After some flops, it reentered beta again in 2017, with the goal of overhauling it for the PC gaming crowd at large. Three years later, Nvidia seems confident the service is ready for prime time, despite some initial early reports that suggest otherwise. Nvidia has had a lot of time to build the GeForce Now service, and it shows in the many ways it differentiates itself from Staida.

The service currently boasts a substantial library of supported games compared to Staida, offers a free tier (albeit with a limited 1-hour time session), and undercuts Staidia’s pricing at $5/month. Perhaps the most advantageous aspect is that users are afforded access to actual graphics settings for every game. GeForce Now basically fires up a virtual machine and loads the launcher of your choice (Steam, Epic, Battle.net, etc.), so settings from the respective versions of those games should remain intact. It’s essentially a BYOG model, which should assuage those concerned about game ownership in the long run.  

In addition to graphics settings, users also get access to Turing or Pascal-based GeForce Now servers. There’s even ray tracing for those paying the $5 per month for the Founder’s subscription. Processor wise, the GeForce Now servers only identify the CPU as “Intel CC150.” The Intel CC150 is completely shrouded in mystery at this point; nothing about it is congruent with Intel’s past naming and product nomenclature. Rumors on reddit currently speculate that it’s an 8C/16T part based on Intel’s Coffee Lake line, as the chip sports the same pin count and capacitor lay out as those processors, and it supposedly fits into the LG1151 socket. 

GeForce Now also seems to offer many ways to tweak the bit rate and frame rate for streaming, with a current max resolution of 1080p. Nvidia is launching the service with the following supported platforms: Windows, macOS, and Android, with future Chromebook support. While Nvidia seems to be putting its best foot forward combining the bring-your-own-games model with its natural strength in infrastructure, it still has one serious hurdle, as do all would be cloud gaming vendors: Convincing gamers that streaming games is better than playing locally.       

Source: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2020/02/04/geforce-now-pc-gaming/

Intel Reportedly Preparing Cascade Lake Refresh

According to a report coming out of CRN, Intel is reportedly preparing a response to AMD’s current Epyc lineup -- that is, Epyc Rome. Intel’s current server offerings are the Cascade Lake Xeon family; the rumored response would come in the form of a “Cascade Lake Refresh” line. Lest you get your lakes confused, this refresh would exist separately from Cooper Lake, which is intended to be another 14nm++ update for the second half of 2020. 

The Cascade Lake Refresh is supposedly set to launch as soon as February 23, and evidence of new chips have surfaced in recent Intel microcode updates as well. Per CRN’s reporting, Intel’s partners have stated that Intel has been sharing fab capacity with current Cascade Lake parts in order to ramp up for the Cascade Lake Refresh, which may have contributed to the recent Xeon shortages.

The refreshed Cascade Lake parts would seemingly topout at 28 cores, a four core upgrade from the current lineup. They would also include an iterative frequency bump and denser cache. More importantly, and perhaps more exciting, is the idea that Intel would be competing on the basis of price and features -- both of which the chipmaker has been notoriously greedy with in the server segment. Refreshed Cascade Lake parts would target the mainstream and value oriented server market and tide Intel over until Cooper Lake arrives, which should address the high-end server market.    

Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-to-fire-back-at-amds-epyc-rome-with-cascade-lake-xeon-refresh-report

https://www.crn.com/news/components-peripherals/intel-set-to-unleash-cascade-lake-refresh-in-amd-epyc-attack

AMD’s x86 CPU Market Share Gains Continue 

AMD recently shared some details from the report compiled by Mercury Research, which essentially confirms AMD’s narrative that it continues to gain market share across all x86 CPU segments. AMD has also achieved some of its best market share performance since 2013, which was a point Lisa Su hinted at in AMD earnings report last week. We’ll list the figures below, which exclude console (semi-custom) and IoT data. 

Segment

Share

Change (QoQ/YoY)

Server

4.5%

0.2 / 1.4

Desktop

18.3%

0.3 / 2.4

Mobile

16.2%

1.5 / 4.0

Client

17.0%

1.1 / 3.5

Overall x86

15.5%

0.9 / 3.2

While AMD’s QoQ gains are negligible in most cases, AMD’s YoY gains begin to illustrate the success of Ryzen 3000 and Epyc Rome, proving that both chip lineups continue to become more popular with customers and OEMs. AMD still faces an uphill battle in the server space, where Intel’s Xeon tentacles are firmly entrenched. AMD continues to chip away at Intel’s share, though, and AMD is confident and it can achieve double-digit share by mid-2020. 

Make no mistake, AMD has a long way to go here. However, AMD continues to pick its shots wisley, and its current Epyc 7002-series has already proven to be a worthy tool in prying away lucrative market share from Intel, who’s already gone on the offensive with price cuts and a rumored Cascade Lake Refresh. AMD’s upcoming Epyc Milan based on 7nm+ and Zen 3 should ratchet up the pressure even further.      

AMD’s biggest win here is mobile, and it comes just before AMD’s new Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors make landfall. AMD has made significant gains with OEMs for AMD powered notebooks, and it shows. According to Mercury, AMD took a 15.5% share of the CPU pie in 2019, averaged across all segments.     

Source: https://hothardware.com/news/amd-ryzen-epyc-cpu-market-share-increases

ASRock Hits Record Revenue, Cites Strong Demand for AMD

ASRock reported a record year for 2019, bringing in over $443M for the year, a 31% YoY increase from 2018. Additionally, according to a report from Digitimes, ASRock expects 2020 to bring even higher revenues, and ASRock attributes this to the resurgent AMD. 

ASRock cites strong demand for the AMD platform, and sees this trend only growing in 2020 as AMD gears up for Ryzen 4000 and new motherboards and chipsets later in the year. Another factor underpinning ASRocks record earnings is that its relatively new graphics card business turned profitable in 2019. ASRock has also invested heavily in penetrating the US and European markets, where its presence was relatively weak compared to Asian markets. 

Source: https://www.techspot.com/news/83840-asrock-wants-ride-amd-wave-2020-like-did.html

Massachusetts May Become First State Passing Right to Repair Laws

Massachusetts is an historical battle ground for right to repair laws, as the state has previously championed some of the most consumer-centric repair legislature pertaining to vehicles -- legislature that would go onto become a national standard.

Last October, lawmakers in Massachusetts held a hearing on the state’s Digital Right to Repair Act. The bill, if passed, would require manufacturers to render diagnostic, service and repair guides, while also making tools and parts available for sale. Manufacturers would also be barred from blocking repairs on a software level. 

This past week marked a very important milestone for the proposed legislature, as it has cleared the committee, which means that this is the farthest any potential legislature has ever made it. The bill still needs to clear the House and Senate in Massachusetts, but at this point, things look good. 

In a statement to Motherboard, Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, seemed optimistic. “If leadership allows this to have a floor vote, this will pass. This is the closest we’ve ever gotten,” said Wiens. The Digital Right to Repair act has enjoyed unusual bipartisan support in Massachusetts, and it's modeled after the automobile right-to-repair laws passed in 2012 that prompted the automobile industry to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, meaning manufactures would honor the bill in all 50 states. That’s the effect right to repair activists are hoping Massachusetts' Digital Right to Repair Act will have on electronics companies.    

Source:  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/k7e7xm/a-right-to-repair-law-is-closer-than-ever

Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Josh Svoboda, Andrew Coleman
Host: Steve Burke

Last modified on February 09, 2020 at 2:28 am

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