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The best PC hardware of 2016: We can't wait for these 5 tech innovations to get real

Gordon Mah Ung | Jan. 4, 2016
Get your O face on, as Hardcore Hardware's Gordon Ung walks you through one hell of a year for PC hardware. From crazy-fast SSDs to crazy-looking PCs, it was all hardcore.

For desktop PC fans, 2015 could only be described as awesome. We saw not just one, but two Intel CPUs for enthusiasts. Nvidia released its most powerful Titan X card and then pushed it overboard with the GeForce GTX 980 Ti months later, just to spoil AMD’s Fury X launch party. Throw in stupidly fast NVMe drives, shattering the 64GB barrier with consumer CPUs, and you’d think nothing could top 2015.

The truth is, 2016 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for PC gamers and enthusiasts. Next year we’ll see a huge leap in GPU performance and power, possibly 10-core CPUs, the return of AMD, and more. Read on for all the hot hardware we’re looking forward to.

visiontek radeon r9 380
GPU’s have been built on a 28nm process for three freaking years!

Good riddance and good-bye, 28nm

Sure, Intel’s been enjoying its 14nm Tri-gate process since late 2014, but everyone without multi-billion dollar fabs has been slumming it with the moldy old 28nm process since, well, forever. To give you an idea of how damned long it’s been, consider that the GeForce GTX 680 introduced in 2012 was built on basically the same 28nm process as this year’s GeForce GTX 980 ti. That’s three generations of GPUs, all on the same process (four generations, if you include the original GeForce GTX 980).

As the kids say: That’s. Just. Sad.

The situation has been no different for AMD, either, which has been building both its GPUs and CPUs on the same old process. That’s all expected to change in 2016, when it seems everyone and their dog will move to smaller, more efficient fabs at last.
Not only will they get smaller, but they’ll also have the FinFET technology that’s analogous to Intel’s Tri-gate transistors. FinFETs are gates built in three dimensions to aid in more efficient control of signals in the chip. The upshot is we should see huge improvements in power efficiency and performance in non-Intel GPUs and CPUs. 

It’s a good bet Nvidia’s Pascal will be built in one of these smaller, more efficient fabs. We wouldn’t be surprised to see AMD GPUs and CPUs make the move, too.

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PCWorld AMD’s Zen is the company’s pivot back to performance computing. And yes, that arrow climbing nearly straight up is a good thing.

AMD's Zen and the art of catching Intel

When AMD walked away from performance CPUs, it didn’t mutter a Terminator “I’ll be back,” but the company’s next CPU could do just that. Code-named Zen, it’s a re-think of AMD’s performance desktop chips, and many believe it’ll put the company back a position to compete with Intel. The company expects Zen to offer a 40-percent increase in the number of instructions per clock it can execute.


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