The coronavirus has brought many things to a halt. The movies that should have been released around this time have all been delayed to the fall – maybe even to next year. Gaming – the other major branch of the entertainment industry – is also feeling the effects of the pandemic: while games are sold and played at a level never seen before, there are titles that are delayed and events that are postponed and canceled. But on the hardware front – you know, the stuff you can kick that makes the games run smoothly – life never stops.
2020 already had a major landmark: the launch of AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, the first CPU in history that can run Crysis without the need for a GPU (it’s not really playable but still). And the year is far from being over: we still have a handful of explosive hardware launches ahead.
The Next-Gen Consoles
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated pieces of hardware set to be launched this year are the next-generation gaming consoles from both major names in this area: Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. We have not much of a reason to speak about the two consoles separately, considering that their hardware is pretty much the same: both consoles are built around a similar custom AMD Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU, with similar quantities of RAM, similar storage options, and features, too – native 4K, HDR, and other goodies.
What’s going to mean the major difference between the two is, in turn, the games. Microsoft has announced that there will be no Xbox Series X exclusive titles for at least two years, giving Xbox users time to upgrade their systems before cutting them off. Sony, in turn, plans to go big: aside from all the older titles and casino games you can play on the PlayStation 5, it plans to launch Counterplay Games’ upcoming title Godfall that will represent the next level in console gaming. Microsoft, in turn, prepares a new entry in its famous “Halo” series which will not be a console exclusive – it will be released on Windows as well
Nvidia’s New RTX Graphics Chip
March should have brought us Nvidia’s new graphics cards – the RTX 3000 (Ampere) series – but we got a pandemic instead. Come to think of it, this delay is not such a big problem, considering that buying a new graphics card is pretty low on the list of priorities for so many people.
The top of the new Nvidia product line will be the RTX 3080 Ti is an exciting piece of hardware to look forward to: it will be the manufacturer’s first 7nm product that promises to be much more efficient than its Turing architecture. The card is expected to be a real monster, with at least 16GB of RAM, a massive power consumption (rumors speak of a TBP of 250W) and a price similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy Fold. But its performance will probably be worth every cent.
Expect the card to hit the news (and the shelves) sometime this fall.
AMD Zen 3
The Threadripper 3990X has already made the lives of hardware enthusiasts brighter early in the year – and they can brace for more: AMD prepares to release its first Zen 3 CPUs before it ends. The new processor line will not be such a major milestone – it will be built using 7nm+ technology – but it will bring lots of improvements to the table. And, possibly, a Threadripper 4xxx.
The new processor line will come with a 20% higher transistor density and a 10% lower power consumption compared to its predecessor, and a 15% hike in IPC (instructions per cycle) – more at higher clock speeds. The new processors will have up to 64 cores (128 threads) and support 8-channel DDR4 while using the same AM4 socket. Expect the first processors in AMD’s new line to be presented before the end of 2020.