While Intel and AMD were outperforming each other at CES 2019 by announcing their respective 10 and 7 nm processors, both companies also introduced hybrid processors that can have an even greater effect of changing the future of computing forever.
On the one hand, there are Intel's LakeField processors, whose architecture is closer to that of the ARM CPU than to a traditional computer chip. Instead of having a block of 10nm CPU cores, the LakeField processor will have a central core of 10nm Sunny Cove paired with four Treemont Atom cores.
Later, at CES 2019, AMD also introduced its own hybrid processor with its third-generation Ryzen chip that combined an eight-core 7nm chiplet with a second 14nm chiplet to manage memory controllers and PCIe routes.
Both processors pretend to do different things with their hybrid architectures, but they share one thing in common: both are moving away from the traditional monolithic processor.
Monolithic vs Hybrid
Now, after all that talk, you may wonder what the difference between hybrid and monolithic processor designs is. The answer is actually simpler than you think.
For the most part, processors that come in laptops and PCs have adhered to a monolithic design, in which there is a homogeneous processor built from a single architecture. For example, the Intel Coffee Lake processors used a single 14 nm die, the Ryzen CPUs presented a 14 nm die, the second Ryzen generation was a 12 nm die, and so on.
Hybrid designs stir things up by introducing chiplets that can add a second type of processor cores, integrated graphics, memory or any other amount.
ARM-based CPUs found on phones, tablets and even Windows 10 machines with Qualcomm technology often use this type of design to great effect to maximize battery life and even performance. Now it seems that we are beginning to see the beginnings of hybridization in computer processors now, at least in the case of Intel with LakeField.
Hybrid processors could allow their devices to handle all of their tasks on demand and save the life of their battery when they are in standby mode by packing performance cores and low-power cores on the same chip. In addition, chips with this type of architecture can act as compact systems on a chip if they also have integrated graphics, memory and other modules.
Test in the pudding
Intel has already shown an example of how small your hybrid processor device can be. In its main phase of CES 2019, the company introduced its integrated LakeField processor into the smaller motherboard it has produced by measuring only the length of five US quarters, a form factor that could easily fit into tablets and even some phones.
According to Intel, LakeField processors can power anything from very low power devices and scale up to full PC performance.
AMD has almost no proof-of-concept examples, but it showed that the new hybridized processor does not lose a step in performance due to the new design. The mysterious processor of the company Ryzen 3rd Generation obtained 2,023 points in Cinebench. In comparison, Intel Core i9-9900K and AMD Ryzen 7 2700X obtained 1,873 and 1,798 points, respectively, in our own tests.
While it seems that hybrid processors have a promising future in computing devices, we do not want to buy too much of the exaggeration until we actually have some devices with them.
There is also no reason for processors with monolithic designs to disappear soon. All the complexity of the hybrid chips will probably increase the cost of the devices until their production becomes ubiquitous.
Also, not all devices can benefit from a hybrid architecture. For example, PCs created for production and games will be better with classical-built CPUs and the maximum power a monolithic processor can offer; however, the regularity with which Apple iPads equipped with their own processors exceed Windows 10 laptops can prove it. be false
It's too early to know which devices can work with hybrid processors from Intel and AMD, but we're excited that this is happening. Software and experience in the use of laptops and PCs have evolved to adapt to phones and mobile devices, with touch screens, biometrics and features such as modern standby, and it seems that it is time for the same thing to happen with the hardware that feeds them. .