• Subject Code : QHO407
  • Subject Name : IT Computer Science

Introduction to Computer Systems



Comparing Key Specs.

Real-World Performance: CPU..

Real-World Performance: Graphics.

Security issue.



Introduction to Computer Systems

The Intel and AMD are the two giants who have their upper hand in the market. Tech enthusiasts always argues and compare both processors. A comparative study is done on the basis of architecture of Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9, both of them are the currently released processors. The comparison is done on the basis of specifications provided as well as the real-world performance. Both the processors performed really well, but AMD Ryzen was somehow got the upper hand, with incredible difference. Not only specification and performance, security and pricing also matters. Price of both processor is same, but there is a lot difference between other (AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies, 2020; Intel Core i9 Processors, 2020).

Intel and AMD are the oldest rivals in the microprocessor industry since last 50 years. Both companies’ uses x86 architecture design to design their chips, since last almost 10 years, but their CPUs evolved completely different from each other. During the mid-2000s, AMD started losing the rivalry after introducing the Bulldozer chips. The bad combination of low IPC and inefficient design was the reason behind this failure. After almost a decade, the company introduced Zen microarchitecture, and from that point there was no looking back for the company. AMD increased the competition with the arrival of the first Ryzen 9 processor against its rival Intel. For the consumer who need high performance consumer-grade desktop CPU, the AMD Ryzen and Intel Core i9 are both an appealing options

Comparing Specifications

Cores-The Ryzen 9 3900X has 12 cores while the Core i9-9900K has 8 (AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies, 2020; Intel Core i9 Processors, 2020), so here the Ryzen got the upper hand for raw specs comparison. Everything is almost same. The more number of chips the better ability to handle multifaceted workflows from latest software applications, a lot of of them are designed in such a way that it assign task to as many core as it could find. Both chips work on multithreading support architecture, which means each core can handle two instruction threads from a software, all together. That means the Ryzen 9 can handle 24 instruction threads, while the Core i9 can handle 16. If the software that one is using is optimized to use as many processing threads as possible, then the more is better. If compared purely on the core and thread core, then AMD Ryzen is a clear winner over Intel i9 and will be the better choice for tasks like video editing, 3D animation work and other works that depends on chip’s core count (Brant, 2019).

Clock speed- While, there are many other tasks like playing older games or browsing the internet requires other factors also like chip’s size of the cache, clock speed, or hardware like video card. The Intel core i9 has a base frequency of 3.6 GHz and a maximum boost frequency of 5GHz. On the other hand, AMD Ryzen has base speed of 3.8 GHz and 4.8GHz maximum boost frequency. Both can be overclocked. Although the difference in speed is small but significant. For example, if one is able to pair each chip with a cooling method that offers enough thermal headroom for a sustained maximum clock speed, then the Core i9 might be slightly better on tasks like using filter on an image in adobe Photoshop. But of course, the speed would be more affected by the number of core and threads, making the slight increase in clock speed of less worth. It depend upon the type of program one is running, where more granular benchmark testing comes in (AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies, 2020; Intel Core i9 Processors, 2020; Brant, 2019).

Cache and memory speed- Apart from clock speed and core count, chip’s cache and its memory speed have special attention from gamers, because the performance of some games strictly depends on CPU’s capability to access memory (AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies, 2020; Intel Core i9 Processors, 2020; Brant, 2019).

Talking about memory, AMD Ryzen has hand over Intel i9. The Ryzen is supported for 3,200MHz DDR4 access memory, especially for games under 4K resolutions. Memory and a humongous 70MB L3 cache. While the Core i9 has memory-speed support of 2,666 MHz and much smaller 16 MB of L3 cache (AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies, 2020; Intel Core i9 Processors, 2020; Brant, 2019).

Real-World Performance: CPU

An overview of the specifications suggests that AMD Ryzen is better than Intel i9 in almost every area, but the real world performance tells another story.

The Cinebench R15 test was performed, which includes both single as well as multicore tasking. The Ryzen outpaced Core i9 during multicore workflow, due to obvious reason of more number of core. But when it comes to single core tasking, the AMD Ryzen was behind the Intel Core i9 (Brant, 2019).

Another task was performed, which was encoding a 12 minutes long 4K video to 1080p using the app Handbrake, which is an open source app. There was a great difference between both processors. The Ryzen was 0.25 times faster than Core i9. Apart from the performance difference between Intel and AMD, there is significantly improvement in both company’s mainstream chip lines (Brant, 2019).

Similarly, POV-Ray test was conducted, which also requires CPU ability. And once again Core i9 successfully outpaced in single-core task but lagged behind in multicore task but this time, with smaller difference (Brant, 2019).

Real-World Performance: Graphics

The performance is better compared when it comes to playing heavy 3D games with these two master class CPUs. Both chips were tested with NVidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti video cards installed. An issue was raised that Ryzen has no on-chip graphics and requires a video card. While the Core i9 includes Intel’s UHD Graphic integrated silicon video card (Brant, 2019).

The results at 4K resolution are almost the same across both of the CPUs. Although, while comparing at 1080p, the result is a mix. In this test, the Core i9 performed better in commanding frame rate. While in some games the Ryzen outperformed Core i9. These miniscule performance difference doesn’t matter in most cases. Both the processors are packed with top-notch video card. This can be concluded as the difference found during testing are very important and specs alone do not explain the real performance of the CPU when it comes to gaming or content creation (Brant, 2019).

One thing more to add on to the AMD Ryzen side, is that it comes with cooler that cools down CPU while gaming, hence enhancing the performance. On the other hand, for Intel separate cooling kit needed to be bought, which could add on the unnecessary cost for the total setup (Walton, 2020).

Security Issue

It used to be accepted that the Intel processors are safer and secure than AMD ones. But the security can be ambiguous term that is hard to define. And most of the security problems are due to software rather than hardware. However, breakdown and threats happens which causes security issues within the PCs.

Security researchers were able to figure out the possible side-channel attacks that could lead to security compromising, by using low-level architectural detail. Both AMD (AMD "Zen" Core Architecture, 2017) and Intel were affected by the meltdown on varying levels, and made changes in firmware as well as operating system to combat the problem. However, Intel CPUs were more targeted with spectre because of detailing of initial exploits, many new exploits have emerged. 

Rouge In-flight Data Load (RIDL), ZombieLoad and Fallout has been included in the latest four exploits, which are classified as Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) Attackers. These attackers work on Intel CPU and so far not on AMD (Walton, 2020).

Intel Core i9 series CPU are updated with the fixes and also includes hardware that helps in recognising and addressing some of these exploits. The MDS attacks can go through the existing security and protections. The new upgrade involves Hyper-Threading

Intel’s CPU market is larger still the security is compromised through the side-channel attacks far more frequently. They are also providing fixes but on the cost of reduced performance with every fix. This opens a way for AMD to overtake the market in next few years, if next generations of Intel’s CPU continue to have similar issues.

Conclusion on Introduction to Computer Systems

The above mentioned comparison clarifies that AMD Ryzen overtakes Intel Core i9, although both falls in the same price category. But the complex architecture of AMD Ryzen allows it do performance better than Intel’s stack architecture. There are issue with security also, in Intel Core i9. Still, Intel is a choice for gaming enthusiast, as the due better clock performance and graphic output. But taking about the price range, AMD provide better options, as the Intel Core i9 do not come with a separate cooling system, while AMD Ryzen does. So along with optimum performance it is worth in buying. Right now, the CPU competition between Intel and AMD is really getting close. AMD is improving its non-gaming range, while Intel is still dominating in gaming category.

References for Introduction to Computer Systems

AMD "Zen" Core Architecture. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.amd.com/en/technologies/zen-core

AMD Ryzen™ Desktop Processors with PRO technologies. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.amd.com/en/ryzen-pro

Brant, T. (2019). AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs. Intel Core i9-9900K: Which High End CPU to Buy?. PCMag. Retrieved from: https://www.pcmag.com/comparisons/amd-ryzen-9-3900x-vs-intel-core-i9-9900k-which-high-end-cpu-to-buy 

Intel Core i9 Processors. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.intel.in/content/www/in/en/products/processors/core/i9-processors.html

Walton, J. (2020). AMD vs Intel: Who makes the better CPU?. Retrieved on 23 January, 2020 from: https://www.pcgamer.com/amd-vs-intel-whats-the-difference-between-cpus/ .

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