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AMD vs. Intel at CES 2022: Who won?

Intel and AMD each hosted press conferences to kick off CES 2022, and both companies came with announcements across mobile, desktop, and graphics. Although there were enough reveals to make your head spin, there’s a clear winner of CES this year.

AMD brought the heat with CPUs and graphics cards coming in the next month and CPUs coming in the next year, showing how it plans to answer after Intel’s release of the 12th-gen Alder Lake platform. We’ll cover all of the major announcements here, but make sure to pull up our roundups of everything Intel announced at CES and everything AMD announced at CES for the full rundown.

Alder Lake goes mobile, AMD debuts Ryzen 6000

AMD CEO LIsa Su showing off the new Ryzen 6000 CPU.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The biggest announcements from Intel and AMD came on the mobile front. Intel expanded its 12th-gen Alder Lake platform to mobile with the introduction of H-series processors, and AMD introduced the first Ryzen 6000 processors that are built using the Zen 3+ architecture.

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AMD has been encroaching on Intel’s dominance in laptops, and the Ryzen 6000 seems to be an inflection point. AMD says that over 200 laptop designs are in the works for 2022, the highest number ever for the company. Although AMD hasn’t dethroned Intel in laptops, the company may sit side by side with Team Blue throughout 2022, as evidenced by machines like the new Asus Zenbook 14.

That doesn’t mean Intel took CES 2022 off. The company launched its hybrid platform on mobile, starting with performance-focused H-series chips. The numbers were vague, but Intel said these new chips offer up to a 49% improvement over AMD’s Ryzen 5000 mobile processors while gaming.

Intel presenting 12th-gen mobile processors.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

AMD didn’t make any comparisons to Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake platform. However, the company said the new Ryzen 6000 processors offer up to a 100% improvement in gaming performance and up to a 125% improvement in 3D rendering over the previous generation. AMD also says the enhanced 6nm manufacturing process brings massive improvements to battery life — up to 24 hours of video playback.

I don’t recommend taking the numbers from either company at face value. We won’t know how these chips stack up in raw performance until laptops with them are on the market.

Intel still leads when it comes to specs, though. The hybrid architecture of Alder Lake allowed Intel to cram 14 cores into its flagship Core i9-12900HK, which compares to eight cores on the Ryzen 9 6980HX. Those cores aren’t equal — the Core i9-12900HK actually only has six P-cores — but we’ve already seen what Intel can do with the extra power of the E-cores.

The most important thing about the mobile processors is that 12-gen is an entirely new generation, while Ryzen 6000 is more of an iterative update — on the processing side, at least. With Ryzen 6000, AMD is introducing its RDNA 2 graphics cores to its mobile chips — the same cores used in Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards.

That’s great new for mobile gamers. AMD says the integrated graphics can outclass Intel’s Xe integrated GPU by as much as 303%. It also offers a significant uplift in entry-level discrete GPUs like Nvidia’s MX450, according to AMD.

AMD Ryzen 6000 performance numbers.

These are still integrated graphics, but they look much closer to a discrete GPU than we’ve ever seen. And with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) at the ready, you should be able to bump up to a higher graphical preset or push demanding titles over that coveted 60 frames per second (fps) line.

Ryzen 6000 also supports platform features like DDR5, matching Intel’s latest generation. We have to wait for performance and thermal testing, but AMD certainly had a more confident prescience on the mobile front at CES this year.

AMD 3D V-Cache and Intel’s Core i9-12900KS

Intel at CES 2022.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On desktop, Intel filled in the many gaps in its 12th-gen portfolio and AMD introduced the first processor to use its 3D V-Cache technology. We already know how impressive Alder Lake is on desktop, and budget chips like the Core i5-12400 promise to bring that performance down to a manageable price.

Intel didn’t talk about these new processors at all during its CES 2022 conference, and there’s a good reason for that. Of the 23 new processors, only seven of them use Alder Lake’s signature hybrid architecture, and all of those chips are variations of CPUs Intel has already released.

The exception is the Core i9-12900KS, which Intel says can hit 5.5GHz on a single core out of the box. It can also reach about 5GHz on all cores. This is a souped-up version of the Core i9-12900K that’s already out, but it furthers Intel’s lead over AMD on the desktop — at least until AMD releases Zen 4 CPUs.

Dr. Lisa Su presents the new AMD Zen 4 CPU.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We got a first look at AMD’s next-gen Zen 4 CPUs, but it wasn’t too revealing. The company confirmed the strange heat spreader design that has shown up in rumors, as well as the AM5 socket and platform features — DDR5 support and PCIe 5.0 chief among them. The only news is that the flagship chip can apparently manage 5GHz on all cores.

The more exciting announcement was the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. AMD says this is the “world’s fastest gaming processor,” offering up to a 36% improvement over the Ryzen 9 5900X despite having four fewer cores. That’s seriously impressive. Even more impressive is that AMD claims it’s faster than the Core i9-12900K in some games.

Dr. Lisa Su presenting AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s AMD’s 3D V-cache that makes the difference. Announced at Computex 2021, 3D V-Cache is a packaging technology that allows AMD to stack additional L3 cache on top of the processor. The result is an extra 64MB of cache on the chip, pushing AMD’s midrange to high-end desktop chip into a competitive space with flagships.

Intel Arc Alchemist and AMD RX 6000S

AMD and Intel had discrete GPU announcements, too. AMD expanded its RX 6000 mobile range with the RX 6000S graphics cards, and Intel showed off its first discrete GPUs — Intel Arc Alchemist. AMD wins here by default because Intel didn’t say much of anything about Arc Alchemist (maybe to make room for the 25 minutes spent on autonomous vehicles).

Intel announces Intel Arc dGPU for Alienware x17 laptop.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We know that Intel Arc is coming in over 50 laptop designs starting in February, and that the GPUs support Intel Deep Link and XeSS — both of which we knew about long before CES 2022. The only real announcement was that Intel Arc Alchemist is real and that Deep Link can offer a 1.4x improvement in video rendering over using just the discrete GPU.

AMD didn’t spend a lot of time on its mobile GPUs, either, but the company still provided some concrete numbers. For the S-series, AMD says it’s targeting above 100 fps at the maximum graphics settings for the flagship RX 6800S and over 80 fps with high settings for the RX 6600S.

In addition to S-series cards, AMD announced five new RX 6000M chips. These are small upgrades to the existing range, but they offer some performance improvements. AMD says the RX 6850M can best the RX 6800M by 7%, and the RX 6650M can outclass the RX 6600M by up to 20%.

AMD presenting Radeon RX 6000S graphics cards at CES 2022.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I wish Intel showed more of Arc Alchemist. The first cards are due to arrive in a few short weeks, and we don’t even know how many cards are in the range, much less their specs or performance. It’s a worrying sign, especially considering Arc Alchemist is Intel’s debut in the discrete graphics card market.

Intel Evo 3, meet AMD Advantage

Rounding out the announcements, Intel released its specs for Intel Evo 3 and AMD cemented its Evo competitor called AMD Advantage. The biggest change with Intel Evo 3 is that it now includes H-series processors. Evo is a list of specs that meet Intel’s laptop standards, and the updated list includes 12th-gen processors, support for Wi-Fi 6E, and Thunderbolt 4.

Intel Evo for workstations.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The new requirements also call for 1080p webcams, but only in spirit. Intel confirmed in a press briefing that this is a soft requirement and that laptop builders can use lower resolutions if the image quality meets Intel’s standards. Thankfully, that doesn’t look like an issue. CES 2022 was the year that we saw 720p webcams put to rest.

AMD Advantage is similar to Intel Evo, but it’s not the same. AMD’s spec is focused solely on gaming, and although the company released it in 2021, CES 2022 brought a significant update. The new spec calls for a FreeSync Premium display at 144Hz for 1080p or 120Hz for 1440p and 4K, as well as the latest Radeon graphics and Ryzen 6000 processors.

An AMD GPU and CPU, sharing power while gaming.

AMD also announced updates to SmartShift. SmartShift Max supports more games than the original version, and it offers up to a 13% improvement in performance by dynamically shifting power between the GPU and CPU. AMD also introduced SmartShift Eco, which shifts to the integrated graphics when your laptop isn’t plugged in.

AMD presses its advantage

AMD CEO Lisa Su holding a Zen 4 CPU.

AMD showed up to CES 2022 with a clear goal, and Intel just meandered. The biggest Intel announcements were focused on 12th-gen mobile chips, and they look impressive. However, AMD says Ryzen 6000 is a significant upgrade over the previous generation, and with how many companies are jumping on AMD’s new design, that’s probably true.

If it were just mobile, we’d have a tight race. The real issue is that Intel spent precious little time talking about Arc Alchemist and its desktop processors. The 12th generation is already here, and short of the special-edition Core i9-12900KS, there wasn’t anything exciting. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is a special edition in its own way, as it features a technology that we’ve never seen before that, according to AMD, should help gaming performance a lot.

AMD won CES 2022 this year. Intel may have reestablished its desktop presence with the release of Alder Lake in November 2021. But CES 2022 showed that the company may not have more in the chamber to back it up. If there is more, Intel didn’t show it off at CES, and that won’t cut it in the face of massive competition coming from AMD.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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