Seriously, I don’t get the CPU power war. I get the GPU war between AMD and nVidia, because the march continues unabated towards that elusive end game: photorealistic mainstream graphics. As a gamer, and mostly a PC gamer, we all know that the modularity of the PC and the speed at which improvements and innovations are made to the hardware are really what drives the computer industry. For a long time now, the CPUs have really ceased to matter much in the grand scheme of gaming. Yes, a faster CPU will probably mean slightly better performance overall, but when you’re talking about a handful of frames a second in difference, you wonder what the CPU wars are all about.
Back in the day, when the original Athlon and Pentium 3s and 4s were battling it out, you could understand why CPUs were so important. Gaming and indeed a lot of other everyday tasks were still maturing (so was Windows, really) and demanded an ever growing amount of resources. Now though, it’s all about programming efficiently and effectively, trying to take as little system resources as possible. Windows has gotten leaner and meaner, as has everything else out there. Why then is there even a CPU war in the first place? Graphics processors are now so advanced that the CPU plays little part in the process of rendering a complex scene with a smooth framerate.
The vast majority of people don’t do anything computationally expensive. They check their emails, read the news read a book and maybe, play a casual game. This requires a small amount of power, and definitely not an Intel i7 chip, as demonstrated by the tablet and smartphone industry. Even gaming with decent graphics can be accomplished by a well designed and written program on low powered devices.
Admittedly, there’s a minority out there who does computationally expensive tasks like video and graphics editing, but they’re definitely the minority. Therein lies the reason, I think for the continuing fall of the PC market. People just don’t need to upgrade anymore. Let’s think about it, my computer is running a five year old CPU and a three year old graphics card, which admittedly was nearly top of the line when I bought it, but I can still play most recent games on maximum settings smoothly. The way technology has improved, why would anyone in their right mind upgrade with the sort of frequency they did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s?
There’s a reason that Intel and AMD are piling research and development into designing the low powered devices and trying – belatedly – to compete with ARM devices that they ignored until the iPad. It’s because the mobility factor for everyday users is now the dominant factor for people looking for a new gadget. Despite the hoohah out there though, the PC isn’t dying, it’s now just seen as a device you use for certain things, not necessarily everything, like it used to. That’s why the CPU power war makes no sense. Unless you’re part of a very small group of people, the choice of CPU in your computer now will matter far less than the power of the graphics components and programming. See, the CPU power war doesn’t make sense. The low power CPU war on the other hand, does.