AMD's faithful and exciting 2017 has been so difficult to follow that it often compares the performance of the 2018 company with Age of Ultron in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (This will be a long and tortuous metaphor here, but stay with us here) Last year, it was practically the first movie of AMD's Avengers as it pulled out what we had not seen before with Ryzen that made Intel tremble in its boots, the first 16-core HEDT chip and AMD's first exciting graphics cards for a long time.
This year was a marked improvement with the introduction of the Ryzen 2nd Generation CPU and the 2nd Generation Threadripper, but there was also the serious lack of almost all the new discrete GPUs. More than anything else this year has seemed like a suspension – almost a preamble – of the Infinity War version of AMD that will usher in its first 7nm processors and graphics cards coming up next year.
Finish for its biggest pitch
AMD could not have had a stronger start to 2018. The company was performing well with its new processor families, while largely avoiding Specter and Meltdown vulnerabilities affecting Intel.
At CES 2018, AMD also made a strong demonstration of new entry-level quad-core mobile processors and powerful Ryzen APUs that will introduce discrete class Vega graphics for desktop CPUs. The AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and the Ryzen 3 2200G were simply the highlights of the year in their ability to play modern games in Full HD without sweat.
AMD's integrated graphics were so impressive that Intel and AMD teamed up to create their first mashup chip, Kaby Lake G. This chip was able to penetrate into the powerful Intel Hades Canyon NUC, as powerful as it was small, and some games for 2 able -1 laptops like Dell XPS 15 2 in 1 and HP Specter x360 15.
In a true show of strength, AMD even announced plans for the rest of the year until 2020. In 2018, AMD plans to introduce its Zen + 12nm architecture, would lead to Ryzen 2nd Generation and Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation processors. In addition to this, the company also presented its plans to introduce the 7nm Zen 2 architecture later, as well as the 7nm Vega and Navi architectures on the side of the graphics card.
Silicon companies generally do not disclose what they have in store for the next year, so to get detailed multi-year roadmaps like this was unbelievable and unheard of. We had to give AMD props for this.
Riding and against the current of Crypto
Like Nvidia, AMD was heavily influenced by crypto, meaning the company was both taking advantage of the extreme demand for GPUs for bitcoin mining, trying to stay true to the players. The company was doing so well by cryptocurrency that it managed to overcome the popularity of Nvidia for a short time.
Despite, doing very well thanks to mining, the company promised that its first priority was for the players. Interestingly, to try to stem the shortage of graphics cards, AMD suggested extraction with its high-end Threadripper desktop processors.
Fortunately, we should not wait too long for some new Ryzen 2nd Generation processors. The first AMD 12nm processor quartet will arrive on April 19 with the introduction of Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600.
All AMD's Ryzen 2nd Generation processors pushed the envelope with higher clock speeds and advanced overclocking capabilities. In our reviews we found the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X to completely overcome Intel's mainstream CPU, the Intel Core i7-8700K, while the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X was easily the best mid-range CPU for expert users.
Unfortunately, AMD did not produce nearly as many Ryzen 2nd Generation processors as it did with its previous chip family.
In fact, we had to wait until September for AMD to release its subsequent Ryzen, Ryzen 5 2500X and Ryzen 3 2300X processors, but these were chips that average consumers could not even buy. Instead, AMD has chosen to reserve its low-end chips for OEMs and system integrators. Up to now, it is not yet possible to get these CPUs without buying a pre-built PC assembled around them.
Overall, we would say that AMD did a great job in providing even more impressive CPUs, but they felt much more chatted than setting the narrative for the whole of 2018 as the previous generation had done last year.
AMD has really knocked out the gauntlet at the Computex 2018. The company has seen the 28-core Intel processor and has grown as a giant 32-core CPU, which we will later learn is the AMD Ryzen 2990WX Threadripper.
At the show focused on computing, AMD also revealed a new nano-version of the Radeon RX Vega 56 and details of its new graphics card 7nm Radeon Instinct – unfortunately, this would be the last time that AMD would talk about graphics cards up to much later in the year.
Not long after Computex, the official AMD announced four new Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation processors in August. These HEDT processors not only increase the number of cores, but also the performance by reducing prices.
The Ryzen Threadripper 2950X was the perfect example of our last points, as it outperformed the outgoing Ryzen Threadripper 1950X by arriving at a slightly lower price. Meanwhile, the 32-core and 64 thread Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX offered the highest multi-core performance we've ever seen from a high-end desktop PC.
It seemed that AMD was well on its way to completely dominate the high-end desktop market, unfortunately, the company waited until the end of October to release the Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and the Ryzen Threadripper 2920X. At this point, Intel announced its family Basin Falls Refresh HEDT and the biggest threat of the Intel Core i9-9900K.
Better late than never
If there was one thing that AMD was missing in 2018, it was the graphics cards. In addition to the impressive integrated graphics introduced at the beginning of the year, AMD announced a new "new" range of Polaris Radeon RX 500X GPUs for OEMs (which were unfortunately only new ones named), a version nano of its existing Radeon RX Vega 56 and a new Radeon RX 590 for the mid-market.
This has virtually left the new graphics cards of Turing RTX 20 Nvidia in 2018, but we have high hopes for the 7nm graphics cards that AMD is expected to announce in 2019.
Although AMD did not have many new GPU hardware in 2018, it brought a lot of new software. In March, the company launched a Project ReSX (Radeon eSports Experience) update that optimizes its graphics cards for eSports games.
With the annual software update, AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition has brought a lot of new features, including the streaming of traditional PC games and virtual reality games on mobile devices. In addition, it added the ability to automatically overclock your graphics card and a ton of new features designed to impress players.
What the 2019 will have for AMD
2019 will probably be the biggest year of AMD yet. The company has already announced that it will talk about its 7nm processors and graphics cards at CES 2019.
This should lead AMD to introduce its Zen 2 7nm architecture which will lead to the Ryzen 3rd Generation and Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation processors. From what we know so far, the next AMD CPU family will start with entry-level quad-core chips and set itself up to 16-core mainstream processors. We might even dare to dream of 48 or 64-thread HEDT processors on the HEDT front.
Meanwhile, the AMD 7nm architecture of the GPU could lead to the introduction of both the Vega II and Navi graphics cards that we strongly wanted this year.
If AMD succeeds in successfully achieving all three of these products next year, it will assemble its Silicon Infinity Gauntlet to make Nvidia and Intel disappear (or at least from their comfortable thrones). The biggest threat from AMD next year will be Intel, as the company is preparing to introduce its 10nm Sunny Cove processors and we could also see the introduction of Intel graphics cards.
Regardless of how it is addressed, 2019 should be one of the most exciting years of computing and AMD will undoubtedly play a large part of it.