Why Is Intel Falling Behind In The CPU Race?

Intel has been a global industry leader in the CPU market for more than three decades. But now, due to fierce competition from companies like Apple and AMD, intel is falling behind in the market. In this article, I will discuss in detail why Intel is losing its industry lead. I will also discuss how intel is planning to reclaim its former title and bounce back into the CPU market once more.

1. Intel’s Manufacturing Problem

Intel designs and manufactures its CPUs very differently compared to its competitors. Unlike its rivals, Intel follows the in-house manufacturing method. This means designing, manufacturing, and advertising all are managed by intel on their own by their own employees.

Having in-house manufacturing capability can be a tremendous advantage for a company as it can enable them to have full control over their product. But in the case of Intel, it was more of a disadvantage rather than being an advantage.

Intel’s main rival AMD does not follow the in-house manufacturing method. Instead, they use third-party manufacturers like TSMC to produce their chips. TSMC is a well-renowned semiconductor manufacturing company that has excellent expertise in manufacturing chipsets.

By following this method, AMD can put all their resources into designing their chipsets and let third-party manufacturers work out manufacturing issues.

But intel being an in-house manufacturer, can not focus all its resources on manufacturing as they need to manage designing and advertisement as well. Intel faced manufacturing difficulties and spent almost 7 years solving the issues. Within those 7 years, Intel’s competitors caught up and secured a dominant place in the CPU market.

Intel’s in-house manufacturers just could not compete with more experienced manufactures like TSMC which caused intel to lose its lead into the CPU market.

2. Losing The Nanometer Race

In the world of CPU architecture, the size of the transistor dictates how powerful and efficient a CPU will be. For example, a 7 nm processor will be 20% faster than a 14 nm processor. The reason behind this is, the smaller the transistor, the more of it can be cramped into a CPU which in turn will help the CPU to produce less heat and more power.

In 2014, intel released the new core i5 processor with a 14 nm process. At that time, AMD was way behind in intel because of using a 28 nm process. But after that, all started going down for Intel.

Intel promised to switch to 7 nm process CPUs within 2017. But, due to aggressively pursuing 10 nm technology, they ran into some technical difficulties and delayed the switch.

It has been almost 7 years but Intel still has not made their switch from 14 nm processors. They are still releasing highly optimized but 14 nm-based processors to this date. Intel pushed back the release date of their 7 nm-based processors to 2022.

While Intel was struggling to release 7 nm processors, AMD surpassed Intel and released their all-new 14nm 16 core Ryzen processor in 2017 that crushed Intel in multitasking while being comparatively cheaper than the Intel counterpart.

Intel still had their lead on gaming performance though. But the gaming lead of Intel was also overtaken by AMD with the release of their 7 nm-based 3rd generation Ryzen CPUs in 2019.

3. Lagging Behind AMD And Apple

Needless to say, AMD’s Ryzen and Apple’s M1 chipsets are much more powerful than what Intel has to offer right now.

Even in the laptop market, Intel is facing severe performance issues. Recently, Apple ditched using Intel processors in their computers and started using their more faster and efficient M1 chipsets.

Ryzen, with the release of their new 4000 series mobile CPUs extended their existing big gap with Intel in the laptop market as well. XMG core 15 laptop shows the performance gap between Intel and Ryzen processors more clearly.

A laptop having the same specifications but running on an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor performs much faster and provides better battery life compared to a laptop running on a Core i7-10750H processor.

In amazon’s best sellers list, AMD has been among the top 10 positions for many years. This shows, that people prefer using AMD processors rather than using Intel processors. Furthermore, AMD secured the server market with the help of the new Epyc processors that are much faster and able to provide better performance than Intel’s Xeon CPUs.

4. Intel’s Unjust Behaviours

Intel and AMD signed an agreement in 1982 stating Intel would share its resources and intelligence and would give access to their second-gen “286” chip technology to AMD. But in 1984, Intel decided to break that agreement. This resulted in a long legal lawsuit that ended up favoring AMD.

Intel was caught bribing companies like Fujitsu, Toshiba, Sony and forced them to use and sell Intel-based processors instead of using Ryzen ones. Consequently, a lawsuit was pressed against Intel and they had to pay over a billion dollars to AMD in antitrust settlements.

5. Cheating In Benchmarks

Intel was accused of forging benchmarks in 2010 which was later proved to be true. Intel specially developed custom codes that could detect which CPU the benchmark was running on. The code ran highly efficient benchmarks for intel processors and ran an inefficient benchmark if it detected AMD processors.

In 2019, intel again forged benchmarks of their newly released Core i9-9900k processor. Intel essentially disabled half the cores of the AMD processor to gain an unfair advantage in benchmark tests.

Intel’s New Plan

With the current global pandemic ongoing and the world facing a global silicon chip shortage, it will be very difficult for intel to rise on top of the CPU market any time soon. As mentioned earlier, intel is still using the old 14 nm process to make its processors which is costing them their market share. But intel is trying to reclaim its lead in the CPU industry.

It was announced in 2021 that Intel will finally pull out of in-house manufacturing methods and start using third-party manufacturers to produce new more efficient chips. This is definitely a step in the right direction for intel. Moreover, Intel also fired its old CEO and employed a new one who can hopefully guide the company to its former glory.

Hopefully, Intel will learn from its mistakes and address its current issues.

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