We will see 10nm CPUs from Intel…
The past 12 months brought some interesting developments to the PC, such as AMD’s first and second round of graphics cards based on its 7-nanometer Navi GPU architecture, lower solid state drive (SSD) pricing with bigger capacities to boot, the advent of PCI Express 4.0 hardware, the launch of third-generation Ryzen processors, and a return to relative affordability for DDR4 RAM, to give a few examples. But 2019 has come to a close, and it’s onward (and hopefully upward) to 2020.
AMD does real-time ray tracing
For all of 2019, real-time ray tracing in games has been the sole domain of Nvidia, primarily by way of its GeForce RTX series graphics cards. Technically, Nvidia’s recent GeForce GTX cards also support ray tracing, though they lack dedicated hardware (RT cores) to make it practical, for the most part. Either way, Nvidia has stood alone in the realm of ray-traced visuals, but that will probably change in 2020.
Nvidia will launch 7nm GPUs
Up to this point, Nvidia has not really had to push the envelope in terms of process nodes, because AMD has not been able to pluck the performance crown out of team green’s hands—the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is still the best graphics card, and if a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Super comes to pass, Nvidia will extend its lead at the top-end even further. Nevertheless, I believe Nvidia will make the transition to 7nm in 2020.
Intel finally does 10nm on the desktop
Remember when Cannon Lake was supposed to usher in the era of 10nm CPUs for Intel, only to be delayed and ultimately scrapped? Well, even though Cannon Lake is dead in the water, Intel will launch 10nm desktop CPUs in 2020. In fact, I have it from a rock solid source that Intel will “absolutely” launch 10nm desktop CPUs in 2020, and they will be “pretty cool ones” at that.
AMD will launch 7nm+ Zen 3 CPUs
While Intel will finally find its way to 10nm in 2020, AMD will roll out fourth-generation Ryzen 4000 processors based on its Zen 3 CPU architecture before the year is over. These CPUs will be based on a refined 7nm+ manufacturing process, and should yield faster clocks, better power efficiency, and perhaps more cores (though Zen 2 already pushed the mainstream category to 16 cores/32 threads).
New SSDs will push faster speeds and higher capacities
2020 will see the introduction of even more SSDs, which will be faster and higher in capacity. They’ll also deliver more bang for your buck, except at the high end. At the very top, SSD makers will push the envelope with even faster PCIe 4.0 models—all current PCIe models are powered by Phison’s PS5016-E16 controller, and Phison says it has a next-gen controller in the wings that will push speeds to 6,500MB/s.
DDR5 will finally come to desktops
DDR5 modules will arrive in 2020 (at long last!), and with them will come double the density and double the bandwidth of DDR4. That will make for some impressive gains in synthetic benchmarking, though I doubt the real-world impact will be anything significant, at least not right away. It will take some time for system platforms to really leverage DDR5, and 2020 is too soon to expect big gains in actual performance.