A new decade means lots of exciting new technology to spend your hard-earned money on! If you’ve got the itch to upgrade your PC, it might be worth checking these things out. Then you can either wait to see what improvements are in store, or be confident that a purchase made right now won’t be obsolete in six month’s time.
Keep in mind that a lot of the following information is based on rumours, conjecture, and leaked information. Until it comes direct from the manufacturer in question, take this information with a grain of salt.
1. Ampere (New Nvidia RTX 3000 Graphics Cards)
One big deal that’s rumoured to be released in the latter half of 2020 is Nvidia’s next generation of graphics cards: the GeForce 30 series (though currently, the GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 are the only ones that have been mentioned). There’s been a lot of leaks and unverifiable rumours about these upcoming graphics cards, but we know with a fair degree of certainty a few things about them.
To begin with, they are going to use a new microarchitecture which is codenamed Ampere. This succeeds the current Turing architecture which populates the current GeForce 16 series and 20 series, as well as the current Quadro and Tesla GPUs. Furthermore, in contrast to earlier GPUs which were manufactured solely through TSMC, much of Ampere is expected to be manufactured on Samsung’s 7nm EUV process. This also contrasts with earlier rumours stating that they could use the older, more reliable 12nm process. A smaller node brings improvements such as greater performance or better power efficiency, with an overall expectation of a 50 percent improvement in either one of those areas.
Now, about the RTX 3080 itself: it is expected to come with 60 streaming multiprocessors and 3840 CUDA cores. It should also come with GDDR6 memory and a 320-bit memory bus. All in all, this means a lot more performance compared to the current RTX 2080, especially in the realm of ray tracing (which is expected to get bigger and better over the next few years).
2. RDNA 2 (New AMD RX 5000+ Graphics Cards)
RDNA is AMD’s most recently released GPU architecture, and it was first featured in the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT graphics cards. They came out in July 2019 and were made on the 7nm node by TSMC. The focus of this graphics architecture was to improve gaming efficiency and reduce latency for gaming—in short, it tries to do more with less. It uses elements of AMD’s previous GPU architecture, the relatively archaic GCN (Graphics Core Next), which had been used in gaming graphics cards since 2012. AMD reasons that there are aspects of GCN that still function perfectly well. Thus, you could consider first-generation RDNA to be a ‘hybrid’ architecture, of sorts.
RDNA 2 is meant to improve on first-gen RDNA by using the refined process node 7nm+, and this is what ‘Big Navi’ is going to be built with. ‘Big Navi’ as AMD likes to call it, is expected to be the GPU that knocks Nvidia off their high horse. Several leaks have mentioned that ‘Big Navi’ should be close to twice as powerful as the RX 5700 XT, which would position the upcoming graphics card above Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Of course, we don’t know exactly how powerful Ampere is going to be…
RDNA 2 is also the GPU that is going to power the graphics in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and brings real-time ray tracing in a similar-but-not-identical fashion to Nvidia’s current GPUs.
3. Zen 3 (New AMD Ryzen 4000 CPUs)
Continuing this one-sided conversation about AMD is their next iteration of their popular CPUs. The successor to Zen 2, Zen 3 is expected to utilise the 7nm+ process which will bring 20 percent greater density and 10 percent less power usage compared to Zen 2.
The Zen 3 processors will likely continue the current naming scheme, thereby be labelled the Ryzen 4000 series. Surprisingly, not a huge amount of information has been leaked; however, something that I found to be pretty interesting is the improvements to multithreading. The upcoming processors could have four threads per core. Potentially, this means quad-core processors with 16 threads, and/or 64-core processors with 256 threads (wow!).
4. Comet Lake (New Intel 10th-gen CPUs)
Intel’s tenth-generation processors—codenamed Comet Lake and Ice Lake—are being released around April/May this year and are built on the 14nm+++ and 10nm process respectively. Both are coming for laptops, though only Comet Lake will be available for desktop computers. In the laptop space, the main difference between them comes down to what the laptop is going to be used for. If you need more power, then Comet Lake is the better choice. Otherwise, if efficiency is key, then go with Ice Lake.
Comet Lake desktop CPUs were originally planned to have support for PCIe 4.0 last year (the significance of which can be understood by reading our article on X570 motherboards); however, Intel was not granted certification because of some minor signaling issues. On the plus side, all the processors are expected to have Hyper-Threading. This means the i3 processors have four cores/eight threads, and ten cores/twenty threads for the i9 processors. Power consumption on these high-end processors are rumoured to be notably higher than previous ones, reaching a potential 250w-300w.
We have an article that goes into more detail with Intel’s tenth generation. So, you can click here if you’d like to do more reading on the specifics of these upcoming Intel processors (after finishing this post, of course).
5. LGA 1200 (New Intel Motherboards)
With the new desktop CPUs coming from Intel, there will allegedly be a new motherboard series and a new socket: LGA 1200. ASRock has referenced a few different chipsets, such as the Z490, H470, and W480.
Since it uses a modified design of the current LGA 1151, there shouldn’t be any unexpected additions. However, the 49 extra pins are for further I/O support and better power delivery.
Well, there you have it! Five different exciting PC hardware things, all very likely to be coming out sometime this year.
I can’t say whether it’s worth waiting or not, but it’s great to have different products to look forward to! Once again, the computer landscape is changing, and not necessarily with little incremental updates. Each company has been hard at work, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon.