The hacking of Gigabyte’s website is giving a lot to talk about, as quite a lot of information has been leaked, and not only from the manufacturer, but also from several of its partners. This is precisely what has now happened with AMD, since according to some of the leaked documents, the brand’s upcoming AM5 “Raphael” processors will lack PCI-Express 5.0 interface, which would mean that, contrary to what happened in previous generations, it would be behind Intel in terms of technology.
Large manufacturers, such as Intel, AMD or even NVIDIA, do not rely on themselves to be “airtight”, or in other words, it is impossible for them to be immune to leaks since, no matter how much they try to improve their security, in the end they must share confidential information with their partners and these may not be as airtight as they are. This is exactly what has happened with Gigabyte, victim of a ransomware through which large amounts of information have been leaked, both theirs and that of their main partners.
AMD Raphael AM5 without PCI-Express 5.0
If you recall, AMD has long claimed that it was the first to bring the PCI-Express 4.0 interface to market, and this remains true. This has given it a significant competitive advantage over Intel, as the fastest SSDs on the market could only work optimally on AMD’s architecture. And, while there isn’t much of a difference in performance between the latest graphics cards running on PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 interfaces, we’re back to the position where the latest generation GPUs use an interface that Intel’s platform didn’t have.
AMD was somewhat of a pioneer in this regard, integrating the PCIe 4.0 interface a year and a half before Intel, but this scenario may change with upcoming generations of AMD’s SoCs, which will feature 28 PCI-Express 4.0 lanes rather than the expected PCI-Express 5.0 lanes, according to a leaked block diagram for the future AM5 platform.
According to this block diagram, 16 of the SoC’s 28 lanes are dedicated to a PCIe 4.0 graphics card, four to an M.2 NVMe socket linked to the CPU, four more lanes to the USB 4.0 controller, and the remaining four lanes are for the chipset, for a total of 28, but it is clear that we are talking about PCIe Gen4 and not PCI-Express 5.
So, compared to Intel’s next-generation processors, AMD would be behind in terms of interface technology (remember, Alder Lake has both DDR5 RAM and PCI-Express 5.0 announced, though it is true that Alder Lake-S CPUs would only implement it with 16 lanes for the PEG port, leaving NVMe links with PCIe 4.0), which is the inverse of the situation we had previously.
Is AMD falling behind Intel?
No, not always. There is no doubt that technology is evolving at a dizzying rate, but adoption of new implementations is not uniform across all manufacturers: we saw it with Intel, which took more than a year to implement PCIe 4.0 in comparison to AMD, and if these leaks are true, we will now see the exact opposite situation with the PCIe 5.0 interface.
There is no doubt that AMD’s engineering team is working hard to bring all of the improvements to the market, but we must consider the market’s stiff competition, and if they were late with the implementation of this technology this time, they may have had to make the decision to do without it in order to launch a new generation (and new platform in t).
Assume AMD decides to delay the debut of the AM5 platform so that when it does come out, it will include PCIe 5.0, just like Intel. This would leave Intel as the only manufacturer having PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 on the market for quite some time, and would have a significant detrimental impact on AMD’s competitiveness.
Of course, these are just our assumptions, and AMD could have other reasons, but for the time being, we have the data we have, and what is evident to us is that, in answering the question, AMD is not falling behind.
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