Re: This is an extremely interesting situation
Quote: "Intel is still extremely competitive, and the new 10xxxx CPU's still seem to be top of the heap for gaming, although by an extremely narrow margin. This implies Intel's designs are probably better than AMD's from a performance standpoint, but are held back by their issues in fabbing 10 and 7 nm."
Not really, the main reason Intel have these small margins over AMD on some benchmarks, is due to clock speed. Gaming for example tends to lean heavily on a single thread , so if you're gaming on an AMD that's peaking out below 5GHz, but a similar Intel can hit 5GHz+, then Intel end up with an advantage . That advantage is then lost on productivity workloads, where AMD pull ahead due to the extra cores you can get at the same price point as the Intel chip.
The upside for Intel on 14++++++++ is that the node is very mature, so very stable, and so can be clocked very high. The big downfall for Intel, with being stuck on 14++++++++ is that to get to these clock speeds, they consume large amounts of power, so generate lots of heat. Not too much of an issue in a decent desktop, but really bad in a laptop. The new Ryzen mobile chips for example have been outperforming the best mobile Intel chips by 45% or more (in productivity tasks), yet are only pulling half the wattage.
TSMC focus has been on lower power consumption, rather than clock speed, most of their 7nm is going into mobile devices, so the chips are efficient, but don't clock as well. Likely one of the reasons AMD have been pushing core count so much, as they knew they can't compete on pure speed alone.
Also from an architecture point of view, AMDs chips have better overall IPC (Instructions per clock), than Intel , which demonstrates overall, that AMD have the better architecture. What has let AMD down a bit has been bottlenecks, but this keeps being improved upon with each iteration, with updated fabric and increased cache sizes etc.
Zen 3 is rumoured to likely beat current Intel chips on these last few benchmarks, such as gaming, as Zen 3 is meant to both be faster (improved 7nm+ node), and has improved IPC over the Zen 2 design, combined these improved should give a good boost in performance. Looking forwards to seeing what the 4950X can do!
1. Modern game engines are now multi-threaded (most of them anyway), but those threads are typically for discrete functions, such as one thread for AI, another for sound etc. so workloads are not evenly distributed, and one of those threads (typically GFX related, but depends on game type) tends to be the bottle neck, and so games tend to favour core speed, over core count. Although this is gradually changing, and as the new consoles are basically under-clocked Ryzen 3700 parts (although as a SoC rather than chiplet), I expect future game engines to be more and more optimised for cores count over clock speed, and potentially more optimised specifically for AMD, especially as it's no longer considered 'the budget option'.
2. Worth mentioning that gaming benchmarks are also rather artificial. If you're looking at charts comparing one CPU against another (Intel vs AMD, top end vs budget etc), the results are unrealistic for most actual end user, because CPU testing is generally done with the best GPU they have around, typically an RTX 2080Ti. This being done to try and remove as much as possible any GFX card related bottleneck, and therefore only show how good the CPU is.
But most people purchasing/building a system will be on a budget, and so won't be buying a RTX 2080Ti, and so the GFX card becomes a bottleneck, depending on factors like detail level and resolution etc. Once the GPU becomes the bottleneck, it doesn't really matter that much what CPU you have, as long as it's at least fast enough to keep up and not become the bottleneck itself.
3. There has been benchmarks run, where an otherwise equivalent AMD and Intel system (same core count, memory, M2 drive, GFX card etc), have been fixed to run all cores at the same speed. So same number of cores in both systems, and at the same clock speed, with same GFX card. AMD basically ran the Intel into the ground.