Intel or AMD
Only 2 brands to consider if you want to build or buy a PC. Previously Intel was the clear leader, though AMD's Ryzen series make it comparable with Intel in terms of performance.
AMD has successfully moved to 7nm since Zen 2 architecture, while Intel is still at 10 or 14 nm as of 2020.
AMD tends to have more cores and threads than Intel.
The product lines are well aligned:
- entry level: Intel CORE i3, AMD Ryzen 3
- mid level: Intel CORE i5, AMD Ryzen 5
- high end: Intel CORE i7, AMD Ryzen 7
- top level: Intel CORE i9, AMD Ryzen 9
- categry: the first part of the name, Core i7-8700 is Core i7
- generation: the first digit of the second part, e.g. Core i7-8700 is 8th Gen, Core i9-10900K is 10th Gen
H: high performance
U: ultra-low power
K: unlocked for overclocking (AMD Ryzen processors are almost all unlocked by default)
F: no integrated GPU
T: low power
- Intel Iris Xe: introduced in 11th gen (Tiger Lake)
- Intel UHD Graphics: the "old" integrated graphics
Intel Desktop CPU Generations Comparison:
|2nd Gen||Sandy Bridge||32nm||4/8||35-95W||6-Series||LGA 1155||DDR3||PCIe 2.0||2011|
|3rd Gen||Ivy Bridge||22nm||4/8||35-77W||7-Series||LGA 1155||DDR3||PCIe 3.0||2012|
|4th Gen||Haswell||22nm||4/8||35-84W||8-Series||LGA 1150||DDR3||PCIe 3.0||2013|
|5th Gen||Broadwell||14nm||4/8||65-65W||9-Series||LGA 1150||DDR3||PCIe 3.0||2015|
|6th Gen||Skylake||14nm||4/8||35-91W||100-Series||LGA 1151||DDR4||PCIe 3.0||2015|
|7th Gen||Kaby Lake||14nm||4/8||35-91W||200-Series||LGA 1151||DDR4||PCIe 3.0||2017|
|8th Gen||Coffee Lake||14nm||6/12||35-95W||300-Series||LGA 1151||DDR4||PCIe 3.0||2017|
|9th Gen||Coffee Lake||14nm||8/16||35-95W||300-Series||LGA 1151||DDR4||PCIe 3.0||2018|
|10th Gen||Comet Lake||14nm||10/20||35-125W||400-Series||LGA 1200||DDR4||PCIe 3.0||2020|
|11th Gen||Rocket Lake||14nm||8/16||TBA||500-Series||LGA 1200||DDR4||PCIe 4.0||2021|
|12th Gen||Alder Lake||10nm||16/24?||TBA||600 Series?||LGA 1700||DDR5||PCIe 5.0?||2021|
|13th Gen||Meteor Lake||7nm?||TBA||TBA||700 Series?||LGA 1700||DDR5||PCIe 5.0?||2022?|
|14th Gen||Lunar Lake||TBA||TBA||TBA||800 Series?||TBA||DDR5||PCIe 5.0?||2023?|
12th Gen Alder Lake processors: Based on the 7nm (10nm ESF) node, these chips leverage two core architectures: Golden Cove for performance, and Gracemont for the efficiency cores. 8 P-Cores/4 E-Cores.
Intel's Process Roadmap
New naming: Intel 10, Intel 7, Intel 4 (2022), Intel 3 (2023), Intel 20A (2024) (angstrom) and Intel 18A (2025)
Intel 18A node, equivalent to 1.8nm, will enter production in the second half of 2024.
The A standing for Ångström, or 10A is equal to 1nm.
- category: the first part of the name, e.g. Ryzen 5
- generation: same as Intel, the first digit of the second part, e.g. Ryzen 5 2600 is 2nd Gen
- no suffix: standard desktop CPU.
X: high performance.
G: with a Radeon graphics card.
X3D: with AMD 3D V-Cache Technology.
S: low power desktop with GFX.
H: higher 45W TDP SKUs that offer higher performance.
HS: more efficient, with 35W TDP ratings.
HX: higher performance than regular
U: low TDP versions for better battery life and reduced cooling needs.
- Zen 4: 5nm
- Zen 3: 7nm, since 2020; using the same 7nm process as Zen 2. The last microarchitecture before switches to DDR5 and new sockets.
- Zen 2: 7nm. Ppowering the 3-rd gen of Ryzen processors (Ryzen 3000 and Threadripper 3000).
- Zen+: 12nm, released in 2018.
- Zen: 14nm, released in 2017.
Threadrippers: high-performance multi-core processors.
Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is AMD’s marketing term for CPUs that have both a conventional CPU and a GPU on a single die. This is just a CPU with integrated graphics.
measured in GHz, the higher the faster. Most of mainstream modern CPUs are below 4 GHz, and this speed is NOT increase year over year. Instead new generations of CPUs focus on adding more cores and being more efficient.
"Overclocking" is to increase this speed beyond the spec. Intel chips with "K" and almost all AMD chips can overclock.
Instructions Per Cycle (IPC)
The average number of instructions executed for each clock cycle. It depends on CPU architecture.
Cores and Threads
Cores is the number of processors. Each core may have one or multiple threads ("multithreading"). E.g. some CPU spec says "6 Cores / 12 Threads".
Cache on chip. If the data needed by CPU can be found in Cache, it saves a trip to RAM.
3 layers: L1, L2, and L3. L1 is the fastest and smallest, L3 is largest while slower than L1 and L2, but still faster than RAM.
Thermal design power (TDP)
Measured in watts (W), assuming not overclocking. The mainstream is 65W / 95W, and higher for high end CPUs. Your choice of PSU (Power Supply Unit) and CPU cooler should depend on this.
It should match the socket on motherboard.
- PCIe Version
- Max Boost