from the unsurprising dept.
Intel — or to be precise, a company Intel hired to create a whitepaper on Core i9 gaming performance — has crossed that line. According to Forbes, Intel contracted with Principled Technologies to distribute a whitepaper containing various claims about gaming performance between Intel's upcoming Core i9-9900K and Core i7-8700K and the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, 2950X, and Ryzen 7 2700X. With AMD having surged into competitive positioning in the past 18 months and Intel taking heat from its 10nm delays, Chipzilla has every reason to push a narrative that puts it in the driving seat of gaming. But Intel is using this whitepaper to claim that it's up to 50 percent faster than AMD in gaming based on Ashes of the Singularity in particular, and that's where the problems start. The Intel results are somewhat higher than we'd expect, but the AMD CPUs — particularly the Ryzen 7 2700X — are crippled.
There are several problems with the AMD benchmarks as run by Principled Technologies. PT was careful to document its own configuration steps on both systems, which is why we know what, precisely, the company did wrong. First, the Ryzen systems were tested without XMP enabled. XMP is the high-end memory timing standard that enthusiast kits use to hit maximum performance and Ryzen gaming performance is often tied directly to its RAM clock and sub-timings. Using substandard timing could lower Ryzen's performance by 5-15 percent. Second, all of the benchmarks in question were run using a GTX 1080 Ti and a resolution of just 1080p. If you wanted to create a report tailor-made to Ryzen's weaknesses, that's the resolution you'd use. Unfair? Not necessarily — it's the most common resolution after all. But there's a reason we include 1440p and 4K results in our resolutions comparisons for gaming, and Intel/Principled didn't do so.
Third, Principled Technologies notes that it enabled "Game Mode" in AMD's Ryzen Master utility. The implication is that it did this on both systems. This can have serious side effects on how well an AMD system benchmarks. On Threadripper, engaging Game Mode cuts the CPU core count in half and enables NUMA to allow the remaining CPU cores to schedule workloads on the cores closest to the memory controllers. On Ryzen 7, clicking Game Mode just cuts the core count in half. That's why AMD's user guide for Ryzen 7 specifically states that Game Mode is reserved principally for Threadripper and that Ryzen customers shouldn't use it [...] the 50 percent performance gain that Intel claims for itself is exactly the kind of result we'd expect if the 2700X had been crippled by having its CPU neutered.
In addition to what is mentioned above, AMD's stock Ryzen 7 2700X Wraith Prism cooler was used for the AMD system while a premium Noctua NH-U14S cooler was used for the Intel system. This could allow the system to hit higher frequencies for longer periods of time.
Among many of Intel's announcements today, a key one for a lot of users will be the launch of Intel's 9th Generation Core desktop processors, offering up to 8-cores on Intel's mainstream consumer platform. These processors are drop-in compatible with current Coffee Lake and Z370 platforms, but are accompanied by a new Z390 chipset and associated motherboards as well. The highlights from this launch is the 8-core Core i9 parts, which include a 5.0 GHz turbo Core i9-9900K, rated at a 95W TDP.
[...] Leading from the top of the stack is the Core i9-9900K, Intel's new flagship mainstream processor. This part is eight full cores with hyperthreading, with a base frequency of 3.6 GHz at 95W TDP, and a turbo up to 5.0 GHz on two cores. Memory support is up to dual channel DDR4-2666. The Core i9-9900K builds upon the Core i7-8086K from the 8th Generation product line by adding two more cores, and increasing that 5.0 GHz turbo from one core to two cores. The all-core turbo is 4.7 GHz, so it will be interesting to see what the power consumption is when the processor is fully loaded. The Core i9 family will have the full 2MB of L3 cache per core.
[...] Also featuring 8-cores is the Core i7-9700K, but without the hyperthreading. This part will have a base frequency of 3.6 GHz as well for a given 95W TDP, but can turbo up to 4.9 GHz only on a single core. The i7-9700K is meant to be the direct upgrade over the Core i7-8700K, and although both chips have the same underlying Coffee Lake microarchitecture, the 9700K has two more cores and slightly better turbo performance, but less L3 cache per core at only 1.5MB per.