The main gaming hardware of 2022

The main gaming hardware of 2022


 All-new graphics cards and processors, and the future of displays and portable gaming


In 2022, gaming hardware developers will continue to delight us with cool new products. Of course, history is overshadowed by the crisis in the semiconductor market, due to which prices for all hardware have increased, and for video cards, they have completely reached insane values. However, there is hope that by the end of the year the situation will begin to improve - so you can start filling out the list of desired updates for your gaming PC.


Video cards

What are we waiting for?

  • January 19 - AMD Radeon RX 6500XT
  • January 27 - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
  • Q1 - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
  • Q1 (Possibly Canceled) - NVIDIA RTX 30 Series Super/Ultra
  • First-quarter - Intel ARC Alchemist - a serious competitor to NVIDIA and AMD, developed for desktops and laptops
  • Fall - NVIDIA RTX 40 Series
  • Fall - AMD Radeon RX 7000 Series

The main issue about computer hardware over the past year has been the price of a video card. First, the rise in prices was blamed on cryptocurrency miners who bought NVIDIA and AMD new products by trucks and then boasted about the orderly rows of GPUs, infuriating ordinary gamers who could not find video cards for sale for months. However, the same fate befell the new generation of consoles. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X cannot be mined, but they are also sold out worldwide. The answer is much more prosaic than insidious outbids and rich miners: now the demand for new computer hardware significantly exceeds the supply.


Semiconductor chips cannot simply be printed. Orders for them must be made much in advance - at least a year, and better - even earlier. Announcements of the updated RTX 3090 Ti and RX 6500 XT graphics cards have been met with skepticism, sarcasm, and tired, residual aggression. Players can be understood, large ultra-expensive video cards look like a feast during the plague, and the market makes them even more expensive. However, NVIDIA and AMD are planning and ordering the production of processors and the purchase of parts well in advance, most likely before quarantine and before the price spike. Intel, NVIDIA, AMD, IBM, Apple and other companies that are engaged in the design of semiconductor circuits are moving by inertia and cannot fully respond to such sudden and drastic changes in the world.

who need new PCs and are willing to pay a high price for it. There is nothing to blame NVIDIA and AMD here - their bosses themselves are probably not happy with the fact that retail and outbid are lining their pockets, and the attitude of gamers towards their products is getting worse every month.


Against this background, this year for the first time in two decades, Intel is returning to the discrete gaming graphics card market. According to rumors, its first line will be able to compete with the RTX 3070 or even 3080, but at a significantly lower recommended price. Intel enters the video card market with the most serious intentions and with an architecture tailored to the latest trends in graphics. Ray tracing, machine learning, image reconstruction, shared virtual memory, texture archive decoding on GPGPU, scalability, adaptive timing, asynchronous computing, adaptive shading, and other modern technologies are at the heart of the Intel Arc Alchemist architecture.

AMD and NVIDIA are also not going to sit idly by. By tradition, this fall, both companies are updating their video card lines. NVIDIA's 40-series GeForce RTX is rumored to run on the Lovelace architecture, named after Lord Byron's daughter and inventor of modern programming, Ada Lovelace. There is no detailed information about the cards yet, everything that follows is just rumors. They promise to again double the number of CUDA cores and the FP32 performance, which is important for gaming, compared to the RTX 30 series, raising it to 85-92 Tflops. The rumors do not agree on the maximum frequency - they will definitely cross the 2 GHz line, but we will not know whether it will be 2.5 GHz or the more conservative 2.2 GHz, most likely, before the official announcement. The RTX 4090 will retain the same amount of memory as the previous generation (24 GB GDDR6X), but the bandwidth will overcome 1 TB/s. if NVIDIA really tests such prototypes (and it certainly does, because why not?), then the final frequencies and power consumption may turn out to be more conservative. A 600W graphics card can cause cooling problems for other system components - most notably the RAM, SSD, and motherboard chipset, which are passively cooled or small fans that can't handle 600W of heat even in a well-ventilated case. On the other hand, the RTX 4090 is a product for enthusiasts with big wallets who can upgrade the rest of the system to match even such a monster.

AMD continues to call video card architectures by more prosaic names. According to insider leaks, chips codenamed Navi 31, 32 and 33 on the RDNA 3 architecture for the Radeon RX 7000 series graphics cards will follow in the footsteps of Ryzen processors and use a modular structure of chiplets glued together to form one large graphics chip. Small chiplets allow you to reduce the number of defective processors (the larger the processor, the more likely that it will have defective blocks) and scale performance by adding more chiplets to the cluster. However, this can cause the lag issues in games that early versions of Ryzen processors suffered from.

chart

According to rumors, AMD and NVIDIA will produce processors for video cards in 2022 from the Taiwanese TSMC fab on the 5nm process. The technical process is not new, it has already been tested by Apple on the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, as well as the Apple A14 Bionic and A15 Bionic mobile processors. And Intel Arc graphics cards are manufactured on a 6nm process that uses deep ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The TSMC N6 has 18% more transistor density than the N7 that powers the current generation of AMD graphics cards and the PS5, Xbox Series X and S game consoles. But most importantly, the N6 is a separate pipeline from the N7 and N7P running on the current graphics cards , processors and consoles, and the N5, which is rumored to be reserved for new generations of NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. And this gives a chance that already in 2022, Intel will flood the market with cheap, modern and powerful video cards.

Designs

Intel partners have already begun receiving mobile and discrete Intel Arc graphics cards for integration into computers and laptops. It is an unusual approach to bypass the press and retail sales, but in the current conditions, this can only be a plus.

It is important to understand that at first, Intel products will not be an ideal replacement for NVIDIA and AMD products. Owners of a completely new family of video cards will most likely face glitches and performance drops at the start due to the fact that the drivers are not yet sufficiently optimized for games. But in the current situation, it's better than nothing - and Intel understands the problem very well and is working to ensure that it is optimized for the most popular games from the start.

Processors

  • Spring - AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D - update of last year's processors with layered 3D cache
  • Q1 - Intel Core i9-12900KS - countermeasure against updated Ryzen
  • Fall - Intel 13 Series Raptor Lake
  • Fall - AMD Ryzen 7000 series on Zen 4 catch up with Intel with new LGA socket, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, USB 4.0

Against the background of video cards, the rest of the computer hardware market feels much better. In 2020, the Ryzen 3000 series showed that AMD can produce processors that are equally good at work and play. In 2021, Intel made a big move by switching its consumer CPUs to the bigLITTLE paradigm, where some cores are extremely fast, and some are energy efficient, cooler, but still very powerful. bigLITTLE has long been successfully used by mobile processors based on ARM architecture, for which battery life is important. Intel is entering the notebook market with 28 12th generation processor models, divided into three product lines. The H-series for enthusiasts, the U-series for lightweight ultrabooks, and the mid-range P-series.

Already this spring, AMD will release an updated version of the eight-core Ryzen 7 5800X processor with 3D cache. The name of the new processor - 5800X3D - can break the language, but AMD expects that it will become a new milestone for its CPU. 3D means that the memory chips will be located on the textolite not in a two-dimensional plane next to each other, but three-dimensionally - on top of each other. This allows you to fit much larger amounts of cache on the same area. The 5800X3D has three times more L3 cache than the regular model, which according to AMD CEO Lisa Su, will allow the eight-core 5800X to outperform not only the twelve-core 5900X in games by 15%, but also beat the gaming performance champion Intel i9-12900K by 6-8 %. And this is despite a significantly smaller number of cores and a lower frequency (4.5 GHz versus 5.2 GHz).

Intel is not going to give up without a fight, so around the same time, Intel's new flagship consumer processor, the i9-12900KS, will be released, which, judging by the demos, can reach a frequency of 5.5 GHz on a single core or 5.2 GHz on all performance cores. So spring will not be boring.


But both of these processors are just a rehearsal before the main performance. In the fall, Intel should release the 13th series processors under the code name Raptor Lake. What will be new in them, except for the increased number of cores and cache size, is not discussed even at the level of rumors, so we'll have to wait. But much more is known about the Ryzen 7000 series from AMD on the Zen 4 architecture. Process Technology: Latest TSMC N5, same as graphics cards. 3D cache like in the upcoming 5800X3D. DDR5, PCIe Gen 5, USB 4.0, which Intel 12th generation already has. And the new AM5 socket, which will replace the six-year-old AM4, and switch to the LGA pin layout of Intel and AMD's professional and server processors, but a first for its consumer line.

By the end of the year, both Intel and AMD platforms will support the new DDR5 RAM standard. 


but it is not worth threatening the piggy bank for the sake of it. DDR5 is insanely expensive, it almost does not give any advantage in games yet, and all new chipsets support DDR4, 16 GB dies of which are now worth as one console game. No need to hurry.

Screens

After almost twenty years of stagnation, monitors are beginning to use new technologies. OLED is still vanishingly rare, in stand-alone models that cost thousands of dollars and are unobtainable, or in professional cinema reference monitors that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, there are still doubts about the durability of such panels - of course, there is no burnout in a couple of years, but it’s more difficult to say how the display will feel in a 5-7-year period.

Traditional LCD monitors compensate for their shortcomings with MiniLED backlighting and the latest fast matrices, but still suffer from pixel motion blur and lack of pixel-by-pixel brightness control, which are directly related to the very concept of LCD screens.

Screens

Samsung Display (not to be confused with Samsung Electronics, which makes consumer products) comes to the rescue with new QD-OLED panels. The new technology uses blue organic diodes throughout the panel and so-called "quantum dots" (quantum dots) for red and green subpixels. Blue diodes are the most intense in OLED panels. They produce the most light at the same voltage, so they almost always do not operate at full brightness. The red and green sub-pixels are created by quantum dots that store backlight light (in this case, blue pixels) and release it at a different wavelength (color).

Samsung used to use quantum dots to improve the color reproduction of its LCD TVs, now they allow you to create an entire monitor or TV with similar characteristics to OLED (pixel-by-pixel lighting control, pure blacks, high color fidelity, high motion resolution) and almost no drawbacks (significantly reduced burn-in, significantly higher maximum brightness, maintaining color saturation at high brightness due to the absence of white subpixels). Manufacturing QD-OLED is also easier than OLED or its long-suffering inorganic cousin MicroLED (not to be confused with MiniLED backlighting). Quantum dots are brought to factories literally in barrels and printed on screen matrices, and making OLED displays from blue pixels alone is easier than LG's modern RGBW OLEDs.

Even ahead of Samsung Electronics, this spring Dell plans to release the first QD-OLED monitor with the unpronounceable name Alienware AW3423DW. Characteristics are good, but no longer unique. 34", 21:9 curved screen, 3440x1440 resolution, 175Hz, 250nits brightness. The only thing that reminds me that this is an OLED is G2G's 0.1ms response time and 1 million:1 static contrast - quite realistic goals for organic diodes. Despite 250 nits of brightness, Dell promises 1000 nits of peak brightness and VESA HDR1000 certification. Such brightness is rare in monitors, almost as rare in OLED TVs.

The Alienware AW3423DW shows that QD-OLED can be cost-effective for monitors, it can be used for small screen sizes, it can handle high brightness uncharacteristic of monitors, it can be bent and assembled into custom resolutions.




Samsung Display has allowed Canadian YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips to bring in a full set of gauges and test its new panels against competitors, most notably last year's top-of-the-line LG G1 TV with next-generation OLED Evo panels. Usually, the manufacturer does not allow testing of an unreleased product, but Samsung Display was clearly confident in its victory. QD-OLED is so far ahead of the competition in terms of brightness and color coverage that even on camera you can see the difference between the technologies. Of course, QD-OLED, like any new technology, will have to pay serious money, but sooner or later top technologies always go down to the average user, and given the speed with which Dell has integrated QD-OLED into a gaming monitor, I would like to hope that scalability will lead to an accelerated migration to new technology everywhere,

Coming down from heaven to earth, the main trend in monitors for 2022 is high refresh rates. Even 4K models for professional graphics work are upgraded to 120Hz and 144Hz panels. 1440p already supports up to 240 and even 270Hz with overclocking, but 1080p models are still stuck at 360Hz. This high hertz requires new chemistries for liquid crystal film screens, so each new milestone is achieved by manufacturers with great difficulty and expense. It is possible that soon it will become less profitable to deal with liquid crystal artifacts than switching to QD-OLED or other similar technology, which will not suffer from motion blur, which is now compensated by high hertz.

Mobile gaming

In February 2022, Valve's Steam Deck portable console is due out. Many players are looking forward to it. Nintendo Switch has proven that modern hardware can provide a complete gaming experience on the go, but it has already become obsolete, and it has a specific library of games. Valve also promises almost complete support for the unlimited Steam library, as well as the ability to put on a Windows console and play absolutely any game on the go. Whether Valve came out or not, we will find out very soon, there is no point in guessing now.

In conditions of total shortage, the question of Valve's ability to produce a sufficient number of consoles remains open. The Steam Deck uses AMD's Zen 2 and RDNA2-based APUs and a total of 16GB LPDDR5 memory. APU does not use the latest technologies. Surely AMD has entire warehouses with rejected chiplets from processors, video cards, and consoles, which can be repackaged into a new, weaker configuration for Valve by disabling defective blocks. With DDR5 the situation is more complicated. At the end of December 2021 on a phone call with investors, the memory manufacturer Micron confirmed that demand for DDR5 outstrips supply and they won't be able to catch up throughout 2022 due to shortages of components other than memory chips. Even if Valve gets enough of the chips themselves, components like power controllers are still hard to come by, and DDR5 has moved them from the motherboard to the memory modules themselves. With the release of the Ryzen 7000-series, the demand for DDR5 modules will only grow.

Mobile gaming

By the way, it’s not only Steam Deck that is rushing to the performance market. AYA NEO already produces a whole line of handheld consoles. The 2021 version runs on Ryzen 7 4800U APUs, while the AYA NEO NEXT announced at CES 2022 will run on Ryzen 7 5825U. Why not the new Ryzen 7 6800U? The AYA NEO team explained that they have a small production, and new APUs will reach them at best by the end of 2022. Therefore, the Nintendo Switch remains the dominant portable console - with all the desire, other companies do not have a chain of intermediaries and cash flow to produce at least some decent amount of goods. The name AYA NEO is already familiar to the press and many players, but the company still cannot get new chips even for a limited batch of consoles, let alone the rest.

Laptops are doing much better. Now, in conditions of scarcity, their price / quality ratio often bypasses desktop computers with discrete graphics cards. Therefore, at CES 2022, ASUS, MSI, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other manufacturers announced a huge number of models. As usual in mobile technology, many are trying to be on the same wavelength with Apple. The 2020 MacBook Air with the M1 chip made a splash, showing that it's possible to make a thin, long-lasting, powerful, relatively inexpensive laptop with good speakers and a webcam. The updated MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and Max chips finished off the market not only with more powerful APUs and an excellent MiniLED screen with adaptive refresh rate, but also with the return of a card reader, HDMI output and mini-jack. If Macs could be played normally, then they would be universal laptops.

The rest of the manufacturers are trying to stand out from the crowd, and every technological trend of recent years is being used. OLED monitors? You are welcome. Flexible OLED monitors? As much as you want. Laptops-tablets, consisting entirely of a bending screen? Weird flex, but ok. However, no one has yet reached QD-OLED.

As we wrote above, Intel is seriously entering the laptop market with its bigLITTLE processors. With 28 APU models and Arc discrete and integrated mobile graphics, Intel claims it should outperform Apple processors in both gaming and workloads, which have now shifted from photo processing, design, music production, video and rendering to Zoom video calls. Another new feature for 2022 is the use of liquid metal instead of thermal paste, a technology made popular by the PlayStation 5. MSI promises that its Stealth and Raider laptop lines will run 10% faster thanks to this cooling. Liquid metal is indeed a much better conductor of heat compared to conventional thermal paste or thermal pads, because they are still insulators, and metal is a conductor. The downside is the same - the metal conducts well not only heat, but also electricity, so if it accidentally spills onto the contacts, there will be a short circuit. The production has already been worked out, it usually does not spill anywhere, but you should not try to replace liquid metal as thermal paste. However, this year we will see how much it helps to speed up laptops.

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