How the upcoming CPU war is likely to play out

If you look at the roadmap for 2024, there are some impressive parts coming from AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm aimed at your PC that will dramatically change how these machines perform.

This period is when hardware is trying to catch up with the generative AI trend, and our PCs, tablets and smartphones are getting smarter. But the real battle will be on PC processors, which will increasingly get GPU and NPU capabilities, or VPU if we’re talking about Intel, and as a result, performance and battery life should see huge drops.

Given that these products will all be relatively new, their true benefits may not emerge until 2025 as software evolves to take advantage of the latest hardware capabilities. Let me break the ground for you and show you that this fight will also open the door for new competitors like Nvidia to play to change the market.

We’ll wrap up with my Product of the Week, HP’s new workstation, which is the smoothest I’ve ever tested.

Intel’s losing market

Intel is an established vendor when it comes to mobile parts, so this war is on Intel’s traditional battlefield.

The product on display is codenamed Lunar Lake, which is arguably the most significant advancement Intel has ever made for a PC platform. On paper, this product should be more than adequate if it weren’t for the fact that Intel has undergone both layoffs and a wage adjustment where employees are receiving reduced income. Both of these events are usually very damaging to morale and productivity and could put the timely release of this product, which is scheduled for 2024, into question.

Also, the revolutionary nature of this product will require a stronger campaign than Intel has recently implemented. It continues to struggle to retain a chief marketing officer at a time when it will need Dennis Carter-level performance. Intel hasn’t properly supported CMOs since the turn of the century, adding to concerns about the company’s ability to fully execute this launch.

Fortunately for Intel, it’s an entrenched vendor of mobile parts. However, AMD is making inroads, so a failure to launch here could give AMD and Qualcomm a huge boost in their efforts to dethrone Intel.


Lately AMD has been firing on all cylinders. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it.

AMD is expected to have a product similar to Intel’s Lunar Lake on the market by 2024, and has indicated that it will turn heavily to generative AI tools to build it.

Using AI in this context is doubly important and can present some risk, as AI continues to be a driving force and a vendor actively using the technology needs to have a better understanding of how to optimize hardware for it. Additionally, we expect AI to be a significant sales driver for this entire class of PC hardware.

Again, however, as with Intel, AMD’s influence is marketing. Never a marketing powerhouse, AMD is like many engineering firms in that it underfunds marketing, which means it may not get the credit it would otherwise get for its advancements.

With the right marketing campaign and Intel failing (the latter is likely, as mentioned above), AMD could take the major share of the laptop market. But this potential may remain unfulfilled without the interest or ability to fund and run such a campaign. If Intel misses its deadlines, AMD will most likely benefit, given that it will already be on the market with a similar alternative.


Qualcomm is in a unique position due to its dominance in the smartphone industry. It is developing a new computer processor design developed in partnership with Nuvia, which Qualcomm acquired in 2021 for $1.4 billion. Interest in integrating smartphones with PCs is growing, and no one should be able to do this better than a vendor that is aggressively working to improve both platforms.

However, Qualcomm’s marketing requirements to make this work are significantly higher than those of Intel or AMD due to its small presence in the PC market. Qualcomm recently lost one of its early design wins, the HP Folio, to Intel, even though the resulting product offered only one-third the battery life of earlier Snapdragon-based alternatives.

Qualcomm’s higher marketing claim is that it’s the most versatile. Both Intel and AMD are x86-based, while Qualcomm is uniquely ARM-based. ARM is not happy with Qualcomm or its efforts because it believes Qualcomm should pay more for the PC platform license. The dispute between ARM and Qualcomm could significantly hurt the initiative, and Qualcomm is already in the weakest position of the three vendors mentioned so far.

This brings us to…


Nvidia’s plan to buy ARM fell through, leaving the company high and dry on the CPU side, but continuing to do well with its GPU products. Nvidia also licenses from ARM, but unlike Qualcomm, because of its much smaller commitment to that company, it can switch to RISC-V, an ARM-equivalent product that it doesn’t appear to have. ARM’s financial woes left over from the failed acquisition.

Nvidia is the wild card here, but has more of an AI presence than the other three vendors combined, so whatever they do will likely impact the market significantly. Its latest RTX 4060 card is an impressive demonstration of the level of performance the vendor can bring to market for a small amount of money.

With the right combination of CPU, GPU, and NPU (neural processing unit), Nvidia can move in and steal a big chunk of this market from the other players. We don’t know what Nvidia will replace ARM with as it moves closer to becoming a solution vendor.


2025 will be the year of the massive laptop chip wars, with Intel entrenched but weakened, AMD doing well but continuing to be underfunded in marketing, and Qualcomm not yet in the market for its next-gen PCs and seemingly underfunded in its marketing.

If any of these vendors can accelerate and meet their schedule goals and find a way to finance marketing to generate demand for new parts, they could dominate or capture this market.

While I’ve listed Nvidia as a wildcard, RISC-V is also a niche and could be used by Qualcomm, Nvidia, or a new entrant to move the market away from x86 to a more promising AI-centric alternative.

The good news for all of us is that by 2024, at least before it’s over, we should see laptops with 20+ hours of battery life without sacrificing performance. I hope we’ll also see some new designs that better embrace sustainability and reduce e-waste.

Tech product of the week

HP Z8 Fury G5 Tower Workstation

Workstations are an interesting product category because they are typically used by the engineer who specifies their configuration, not by the IT department. These tools are directly related to the productivity of the engineer, graphic artist, researcher, architect, or other creative professional who uses them.

Workstations come with industrial processors, usually from AMD, or in this case Intel Xeon and a professional GPU from Nvidia or AMD. This HP Z8 Fury G5 has an Nvidia T400 card. They are equipped with error correcting code (ECC) memory, which is rarely used in mainstream computers, to reduce errors in the coding done on them.

Starting at $5,320, the HP Z8 Fury G5 is a solid mid-range workstation with solid performance and some of the quietest usage experiences I’ve ever heard. This thing redefines silence. My main computer is a water cooled unit and even that makes more noise than this HP box.

HP Z8 Fury G5 Tower Workstation

The HP Z8 Fury G5 Tower Workstation combines quiet performance with a lightweight design. (Image credit: HP)

Another distinguishing feature of this HP workstation is that it uses Wolf Security for protection, which is perhaps the best of the OEM-based security software.

Finally, this workstation is surprisingly light, 10 or 20 pounds lighter than my gaming rig, which is unusual for a workstation, as they traditionally tend to be a handful. But this was surprisingly lightweight, which makes it very useful for some remote implementations, especially when the office space is fluid and requires frequent computer movement.

The HP Z8 Fury G5 workstation is an impressive product, from its low error rate to its unobtrusive fans and relatively light weight, making it ideal for my product of the week.

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