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The best PC hardware of 2016: We can't wait for these 5 tech innovations to get real
December 24, 2015 – 05:37 pm
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Intel Haswell-E CPUFor desktop PC fans, 2015 could only be described as awesome. We saw not just one, but Intel CPUs for enthusiasts. Nvidia released its most powerful Titan X card and then pushed it overboard with the GeForce GTX 980 Ti months later, just to spoil AMD’s Fury X launch party. Throw in stupidly fast NVMe drives, shattering the 64GB barrier with consumer CPUs, and you’d think nothing could top 2015.

The truth is, 2016 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for PC gamers and enthusiasts. Next year we’ll see a huge leap in GPU performance and power, possibly 10-core CPUs, the return of AMD, and more. Read on for all the hot hardware we’re looking forward to.

GPU’s have been built on a 28nm process for three freaking years!

Good riddance and good-bye, 28nm

Sure, Intel’s been enjoying its 14nm Tri-gate process since late 2014, but everyone without multi-billion dollar fabs has been slumming it with the moldy old 28nm process since, well, forever. To give you an idea of how damned long it’s been, consider that the GeForce GTX 680 introduced in 2012 was built on basically the same 28nm process as this year’s GeForce GTX 980 ti. That’s three generations of GPUs, all on the same process (four generations, if you include the original GeForce GTX 980).

3dxpointAs the kids say: That’s. Just. Sad.

The situation has been no different for AMD, either, which has been building both its GPUs and CPUs on the same old process. That’s all expected to change in 2016, when it seems everyone and their dog will move to smaller, more efficient fabs at last.
Not only will they get smaller, but they’ll also have the FinFET technology that’s analogous to Intel’s Tri-gate transistors. FinFETs are gates built in three dimensions to aid in more efficient control of signals in the chip. The upshot is we should see huge improvements in power efficiency and performance in non-Intel GPUs and CPUs.

It’s a good bet Nvidia’s Pascal will be built in one of these smaller, more efficient fabs. We wouldn’t be surprised to see AMD GPUs and CPUs make the move, too.


AMD’s Zen is the company’s pivot back to performance computing. And yes, that arrow climbing nearly straight up is a good thing.

AMD's Zen and the art of catching Intel

When AMD walked away from performance CPUs, it didn’t mutter a Terminator “I’ll be back, ” but the company’s next CPU could do just that. Code-named Zen, it’s a re-think of AMD’s performance desktop chips, and many believe it’ll put the company back a position to compete with Intel. The company expects Zen to offer a 40-percent increase in the number of instructions per clock it can execute.

visiontek radeon r9 380Whoa.

Zen moves away from AMD’s Clustered Multi-Threading design, which bore winners including the 8-core FX CPUs that were barely competitive with Intel’s 4-core chips. Will Zen be faster than Intel’s chips? That’s to be determined, but the fact that AMD is at least willing to try to beat Intel is good for all.

The bad news is the timing. The first Zen chips aren’t actually expected until the latter part of the year, which gives Intel time to polish its lineup. AMD already has a response called “Zen+” in the works, though, so grab the popcorn. What AMD’s been really great at is giving you a lot of performance value for your dollar. If it sticks to that strategy, this fight could be good.

There are strong rumors that Intel will ship Broadwell-E with 10 cores in 2016.

Intel Broadwell-E, Kaby Lake, and more

pcw 0078Next year we’ll likely see Intel likely introduce at least two high-end chips. The first is an unexpected surprise—you know, like your baby sister or brother.

necessity. Intel’s pattern the last few years has been to build two CPUs per process technology before moving on. For example, Intel built its Ivy Bridge and Haswell chips on a 22nm process. But with confidence problems in its 10nm process, Intel will do three on the 14nm process: Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake.

You can also chalk rumors of Broadwell-E in the iffy column, but this one is very predictable. In fact, Intel has repeated this same pattern three times now with Sandy Bridge-E, Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell-E. The formula is to take the company’s Xeon chips, switch off a couple of features, and sell them to consumers who just want more cores.

The question isn’t if Broadwell-E is coming next year, but how many cores Intel will put in the CPUs. Rumors indicate Intel is mulling offering a 10-core version. That may sound like it’s too good to be true, but there is precedence. With Haswell-E in 2014, Intel sold its first consumer 8-core chip and even offered a 6-core version at a surprisingly reasonable price. Intel could do the same with a 10-core Broadwell-E, especially if the company is fearful of real competition from AMD’s Zen. Intel’s generational performance gains have been fairly unremarkable, so the boost simply from having two more cores would be welcome.

The only thing that could throw this all for a loop are reports that Intel is planning to introduce Skylake-E next year, which would mean it's scrubbing Broadwell-E. That makes no sense to us, but that’s the problem with rumors.

Source: www.pcworld.com
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