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Ever since computation came into existence, the war of being the best processor has existed. And there have been only two contenders for the title: Intel and AMD. The fight for being the best has always brought out the best technology from these two manufacturing giants.

In this competition of Intel vs. AMD processors, many a time, Intel had the upper hand with their progressive thinking and amazing technology upgradation. However, it will be unfair on the part of AMD to rule them out, as gamers will prefer AMD.

2013 saw amazing chips being launched by these masters of the trade. Before we go on to the latest from 2014, let's see who scores the best rating and who stands at the second best (I will refrain from saying worst) position by comparing Intel and AMD processors.

The Flashback

Before we proceed to this year's launches, let us go down the memory lane. Intel has had many launches ever since its launch. Be it the old Celeron or the Pentium processors, they have always managed to gather better customer satisfaction with their launches. AMD, on the other hand, is not too far behind with Sempron to the latest FX series launches. The cutthroat competition that these two have can be observed from the fact that every time either of them launched a variant, the other launched its competing variant. In 2012, the launch of Bulldozer processors was a huge hit for AMD, while Intel maintained the competition with Ivy Bridge processors. The latter also saw the core size reducing to almost 22nm in Ivy Bridge (massive size reduction from Sandy Bridge processors) while AMD maintained the minimum feature size of 32nm.

Intel Vs. AMD 2013

Both the companies decided to go a step further by creating some amazing processor variants. First, let us have a look at Intel's 2013 launches.

Sandy Bridge-E

Intel came up with the Sandy Bridge-E processor, i7-3970X in Q4:2012. Sandy Bridge-E is the name for the eight-core processor that is based on the earlier-launched Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. However, out of these eight cores, some cores may be disabled. With this launch, the die size remained 32nm while the maximum TDP was 150W. The i7-39xx series had only DMI as their I/O bus with about 5 GT/s. This launch saw the end of the 2012's launches and made way for the 2013 launches. The main specs of the processor i7-3970X are:

FeatureValue
Number of Cores6
Number of Threads12
Clock Speed3.5 GHz
Core Size32nm
TDP150 W
Memory Bandwidth51.2 GB/s

Haswell

The latest from the Intel factory is the Haswell microarchitecture-based processors. This was launched in June 2013 and was formerly known as Rockwell. This processor has reduced the die size to 22nm from the previous 32nm. With this launch, Intel has targeted the hybrid or convertible market by making a low-power processor. The processors with this microarchitecture are expected to be launched in three segments - Desktop version (Haswell-DT), Mobile/Laptop version (Haswell-MB), and BGA version (Haswell-H, Haswell-ULT, Haswell-ULX). The processors based on Haswell are i7-47xx, i5-4670K, i3-43xx, i3-4130, and Xeon E3- 12xx. The specs for i7-4770K are:

FeatureValue
Number of Cores4
Number of Threads8
Clock Speed3.5 GHz
Core Size22nm
TDP84 W
Memory Bandwidth25.6 GB/s

To compete with these processors of Intel, AMD came up with Piledriver in the second quarter of 2012, Richland in first half of 2013, and Steamroller in the second half of 2013. Let us take a look at their functionalities.

Piledriver

The successor to the Bulldozer processors are the Piledriver-based ones. The core size remained the same as the previous one, i.e., 32nm. The architecture hasn't changed from the previous one; it has only incremented in its features. The clock rates were increased and so were the instructions per clock cycle. The power consumption has also reduced due to the switch over to hard-edge flip-flops. The AMD APU, AMD FX, and Opteron are the processors that are based on this microarchitecture. The specifications for the AMD FX-8350 are:

FeatureValue
Number of Cores8
Number of Threads8
Clock Speed4.0 GHz
Core Size32nm
TDP125 W
Memory Bandwidth19 GB/s

Richland

AMD's answer to the Haswell processors is Richland. Though we cannot say AMD has exceeded Intel's processing power, this AMD processor surely has an edge over Haswell's graphics core and is also cheaper. The die size has not changed and remains at 32nm. The new APUs are backward-compatible with the older motherboards as the sockets haven't changed. The processor range has four quad-core and one dual-core part. A10 series is based on this microarchitecture. The specs for A10-6800K are:

FeatureValue
Number of Cores4
Number of Threads4
Clock Speed4.1 GHz
Core Size32nm
TDP100 W
Memory Bandwidth--

Steamroller

This latest offering from AMD has a reduced core size of 28nm which is close to the Haswell's die size of 22nm. There are some major changes in the architectural aspect of the processor lines. There is an independent instruction decoder for each of the core equipped with better instruction schedulers. Along with improved memory controllers and larger caches, AMD aims to increase the instructions per cycle to 30%. The main aim of building Steamroller was to achieve greater parallelism with pipelined floating-point (FP) units and two integer units. Kaveri A-series APU and Berlin APU series are the new line of AMD processors. The specs are yet to be released.

AMD Inches Closer to Intel

Wondering what influenced me to make such a comment? Well, this list of 2013 launches would be incomplete without a special mention to AMD's FX-9590 processor. AMD nailed it by launching a 5GHz processor, FX-9590. This is the first 5GHz processor, and it was launched in Los Angeles in June 2013. It is the most powerful processor to be launched till date. It is a 8-core processor with Piledriver microarchitecture. The TDP is 220W but AMD seems to not get enough of the die size, which remains the same as 32nm. The L3 cache is 8MB while there are four 2MB L2 caches. We will have to wait till Intel launches a competitor processor. Till then, AMD surely has an upper hand this year.
Gaming

AMD Richland and Intel Haswell are the new processor lines from two of the major processor-making companies in the world. In this section we compare their on-board graphics, and their gaming capabilities. It goes without saying that to play the latest games, you will need a dedicated graphics card, and no matter how good integrated graphics get, they are never going to be enough to run the latest games. However, these two companies have improved their graphic cores tremendously, to a point where a low-end graphics card becomes unnecessary. Of course, people who opt for discrete graphics rarely go for low-end versions, making this a moot point. But, more powerful and capable integrated graphics is a boon for the development of the mobile market, where discrete graphics is simply not an option.

When it comes to comparing the integrated graphics from both these manufacturers, there is very little to choose between them. Of course, both have made improvements over their predecessors; Intel's Haswell is far better than its Ivy League, while AMD's Richland is also better than its Trinity.

The higher end processors from the Richland line seem to be better than the processors from the Haswell line, at least in terms of Integrated Graphics; Intel's HD Graphics 4600 compares only with entry-level AMD APUs. In gaming, it would be wiser to choose AMD over Intel, as AMD's Socket FM2 products are better for entry-level tasks. It should be kept in mind, however, that even though the performance of the integrated graphics have improved, today's games have become even more demanding. Do not expect smooth game play in full HD resolution on integrated graphics. Neither Richland nor Haswell can achieve that. For multimedia, it would be wiser to choose Haswell, as Richland struggles to cope with 4K content, and suffers in video transcoding tasks.

Price-wise, once again AMD scores over Intel, with processors from their Richland line being cheaper than Intel's Haswell. The downside here is that these processors take a lot of power, so you might not be saving in the long run. Also, they are known to heat up more than Intel's processors, so this is something you must keep in mind as well.

More to Come

As we know, these manufacturers announce their future models well in advance. So, here's a list of Intel processors that we will see in the near future.

Broadwell - This is the tick version of the Intel processor series. The MCP (Multi-chip Package) will be used in this version with a 14nm shrink in the die size.

Skylake - This Intel's processor version is expected to be released in 2015 and will retain the 14nm die size.

Skymont - Intel decides to go the extra mile by further shrinking the die size to 10nm by launching this processor.

With so many new processors being launched every year, the nail-biting competition between the two processor giants is in no way coming to an end. But for now, AMD has nailed it with the 5GHz processor launch and is surely leading the competition. We will have to wait till Intel's next launch to see if the tables turn. For now, we'd say opt for Richland if online gaming, and games with low system requirement is what you will be playing, or opt for Haswell if multimedia is more important than gaming.