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CES 2020: Chipmakers bet on new designs to boost PC market

The roulette wheels are certainly spinning in Las Vegas, with chipmakers vying for attention to show off their latest hardware innovations

If the experts are to believed, the PC market is once again set to decline. Nevertheless, AMD, Intel and Nvidia laid out their chips as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) began in Las Vegas. All are aiming to disprove the experts by offering chips that power products they hope people will want to buy.

In spite of growing 4.7%, according to Canalys’ market pulse for PC sales in the third quarter of 2019, the analyst firm warned that this boost would be short-term and could wear off during the first quarter of 2020.

As Computer Weekly previously reported, the PC industry has suffered from an ongoing supply issue with Intel processors, which has benefited rival processor maker AMD.

AMD kicked off its CES launches with the seventh generation of its Ryzen microprocessor, which boasts improvements in performance and less energy usage. For instance, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U is an eight core, 16 thread processor, which runs at 15W and has 12 Mbytes of L2/L3 caches and eight 1.8 GHz Radeon GPU cores.

AMD said hardware utilising the new Ryzen 4000 Series chips from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and others are due to start shipping in the first quarter of 2020, with more systems expected to launch throughout the year with global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners.

Saeid Moshkelani, senior vice-president and general manager at AMD Client Compute, said: “We saw historic portfolio growth for AMD Ryzen Mobile-powered systems in 2019, and we are already on track to bring wider system adoption of AMD Ryzen 4000 Series Mobile Processors in 2020 from major OEM partners, offering twice the power efficiency from the previous generation.”

Meanwhile, Intel unveiled a number of new laptops that are now part of its Project Athena specification for Chromebooks and Windows laptops. Through Project Athena, Intel aims to drive an industry wide initiative to improve the user experience on laptop PCs.

Among the key features in Athena-compliant laptops is an instant wake up, exceptional responsiveness on the go, longer real-world battery life, and fast charging. The laptops that comply with the Project Athena specification are powered by the 10th generation of Intel Core processors codenamed Ice Lake, which Intel said is able to deliver “broad scale intelligent performance to the laptop by utilising the Intel Deep Learning Boost technology for optimising AI applications”.

The chipmaker demonstrated a new PC form factor, codenamed Horseshoe Bend. Based on Intel’s upcoming Tiger Lake mobile processors, the design is similar in size to a 12-inch laptop with a folding OLED touchscreen display that can be opened up to more than 17 inches.

Intel also demonstrated a discrete graphics processor it is working on, which is expected later in 2020.

Nvidia unveiled its latest Geoforce graphics card for PC gaming, which it said is also being used to power the Nvidia Isaac platform used in Toyota’s T-HR3 robot. The same GPU technology is used in a new software defined platform for autonomous machines being developed by Nvidia, called Drive AGX Orin, which the company claimed would offer 7x performance gains for future autonomous vehicles.

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