Intel and AMD are mounting an attack against Nvidia. But will it work?

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Nvidia has dominated the PC graphics world for decades. The company has not slowed down either. Year after year, it continues to launch graphics cards for both desktops and laptops which undercut the competition and account for the lion’s share of GPU purchases.

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But in 2022, amid disappointing GPU shortages and turmoil in the CPU world, there’s never been a better opportunity for a healthy dose of competition. And at CES 2022, both Intel and AMD seemed ready to pounce.

Intel and AMD Hands Up

Intel and AMD both came to CES this year with a sense of determination surrounding graphics.

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First, AMD.

This is a company that already has substantial investments in PC graphics. Its Radeon platform has been the only legitimate challenger to Nvidia for years, but it has only been a worthy rival in the past few years. The RDNA architecture introduced in 2019 brought AMD’s graphics back into the fold, and the Radeon RX 6000 GPU delivered the kind of performance that could eventually compete with Nvidia’s best.

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And at CES 2022, amid AMD’s press conference littered with announcements, the company expanded its graphics lineup with eight new mobile GPUs. Yes, you read that right. Eight new GPUs! They stack up neatly against Nvidia’s offerings, even debuting a new line for thin-and-light gaming laptops that previously had a hole in its lineup. Even its vastly improved integrated graphics, courtesy of the new Ryzen 6000 chips, are taking a shot at Nvidia’s entry-level laptop cards, such as the MX550.

Meanwhile, Intel has been building its Arc graphics for over a year to launch. While the company didn’t formally announce its first line of graphics cards, Intel did say that Arc Graphics will appear in more than 50 PC designs, including the Alienware x17 and an unspecified Lenovo Yoga 2-in-1.

Intel announces Intel Arc dGPU for Alienware x17 laptops.

This sounds like a great start for the Intel Arch. Clearly, the company is using its strengths in processors, something that AMD has struggled to do, with only a handful of systems that all use AMD parts.

But with the combined efforts of Intel and AMD, laptop and PC makers have plenty of options to break away from the Nvidia monopoly on PC graphics. But there is an uphill battle ahead.

Problem

More than 160 new GeForce laptops are expected this year.

Nvidia has more than just powerful graphics cards. It has a platform. On the application side of things, the CUDA core has immense power. No matter how you cut it, Nvidia’s graphics cards have a significant upper hand in creative application performance over AMD. Right now, if you’re working in an application like Blender, Nvidia’s GPUs will give you better performance.

On the gaming side, things are more balanced. Except when it comes to Nvidia RTX. Between DLSS and ray tracing, Nvidia must have its own suite of software features that often give it an edge over both Intel and AMD. Nvidia has been building the support behind these offerings for years, and at this point, it would be very hard to pull off the multi-year advantage over Intel and AMD.

The argument to buy AMD over Nvidia is hard to make in terms of value.

DLSS started out pretty shaky, but over the past year or so, it’s become a vital element of modern PC gaming. This is especially true if you don’t have a complete top-of-the-line graphics card.

In many respects, for example, AMD’s graphics card line is every bit as powerful as Nvidia’s, but Nvidia doesn’t have the ray tracing and upscaling features. When their prices are so close, especially in this market, the argument for buying AMD over Nvidia is tough in terms of value.

Intel has a better chance of challenging Nvidia in this department, with a background in software and strong engineering partnerships with key applications. XeSS is also promising as an alternative to DLSS – but the adoption of a new technology isn’t going to happen overnight.




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