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AMD gains on Intel, slips against nVidia

It’s a topsy-turvy world in modern technology. Just because you have a monsterous lead one minute, that doesn’t mean you won’t be trailing in the blink of an eye. And so life is for AMD right now. KitGuru investigates.

No longer will we see 'ati' engraved into new cards

With the launch of the Radeon HD 5000 series in September 2009, AMD stuck its poll in the ground as a serious leader in DX11 graphics. Around the same time, the company was trying to push through its 6 core processor technology, Phenom II X6. While the sales of CPUs stuck, graphics blazed forwards. nVidia’s GTX465, 470 and 480 launches did little to stem the tide of the rise of the Radeons (and let’s forget totally the awful 430).

Then the GTX460 launched and the world moved in a subtle way. Finally nVidia had a product that the public wanted. Not only that, but the slow clocked 768MB version could be sold for £125 while the turbo charged EVGA FTW and MSI Talon Attack cards would clock near 1Ghz and sell for £200.

Constant downward pressure on the Radeon HD 5770 meant that this card dropped under the cheap GTX460’s and the Radeon HD 5850 was always over £200. That left the 5830, an Achilles heel by anyone’s measurement.

eVGA's GTX460's - some of the finest on the market

Combined with the basic power/pricing of the GTX460, SLi rigs built around these cards performed really well, with solid scaling on most titles.

The launch of the GTX580 at just £399 hammered home the second nVidia win from the Fermi series.

nVidia also has a Joker in its back pocket with these cards. Tessellation. Right now, nVidia’s marketing machine is ramping up tessellation messaging, while it backrolls some key titles for 2011, like Crysis 2.We’d expect the built in benchmarks for any of the TWIMTBP titles that come out next year, will seriously stress the DX11 tessellation engines.

Enough of the glamorous world of graphics, what about the much larger (albeit more mundane) world of the CPU?

Performance users know that Sandybridge will knock the spots off the present range of chips. These new CPUs are scheduled for a launch in early 2011, with mass market availability expected for February.

If you’re thinking about a new, high end Intel system, what motivation is there for you to buy this side of Christmas?  If you really need it, then you will buy it, but you might also sit on the fence to get a Sandybridge core in ~12 weeks time.

Against that uncertainty, AMD has been knocking out 6-core processors at various price points, with some serious overclocking headroom available as well, not only on the Black Editions.

KitGuru says: 2011 is going to be a hell of a year for tech, watch this space.

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