Twenty Seven 8 x 10 Coloured Glossy Pictures …
Ars Technica took a look at 19 years of processor history, to show how Intel and AMD have traded blows during this time. We start out with the Pentium 4 2.0GHz and Athlon XP 1900+ and wrap up with the Core i9-10900K and Ryzen 9 5950X but it is the meat in the center that makes this so interesting. There are some gaps you might notice in the plethora of charts Ars created to help you visualize the performance deltas over the years, but they are there for a reason. To be specific, from about 2013 to 2017 the silicon wars were not terribly exciting the abominable FX-9590 was indeed AMD’s best for a few years, as well as Intel’s fifth generation Core series which failed so hard it was replaced by updated fourth generation chips.
Thankfully after 2016/17 things became interesting again, and continues to be so as you are likely well aware of. If you don’t recall, it was 2006 when Intel took a serious performance lead with their Pentium Extreme 965, a lead they held until very recently. You might also have missed the inception of multithreaded processors and if so then bully for you! When they first arrived they were a good way to slow your system down as both companies processors at the time scored significantly better when running single threads.
The charts show Passmark scores over the years, first with just raw scores but then combined into charts which show how much faster a chip was when compared to last years models. The latter are the most informative, as they clearly demonstrate the doldrums were were stuck in from about 2008 until the last two years, and why it is so exciting to see competition again.
Before we dive into charts, let's start out with some tables—that way, you can see which CPUs we're using as milestones for each year. While we're at it, there are a couple of irregularities in the data; we'll discuss those also and talk about the things that a simple chart won't show you.