It’s certainly true that for the floating-point type of computing cycles that Bryce uses (along with 3DS Max, Maya, Blender, etc), Intel is currently producing the fastest CPUs. But in the general computing market, and now the lucrative gaming market, AMD is increasingly competitive on performance as well as price.
Intel’s soon to be released mainstream desktop and laptop CPU architecture, “Haswell”, is still limited to 4 physical cores just at a time when PC gaming is becoming serious about multi-core use. AMD is sitting pretty with established 6 and 8 core processor designs that utilise the type of computing cycles that game developers are happy with. These AMD processors are fantastically dirt cheap compared to Intel’s current and projected 6+ core CPUs. Gamers will notice, and AMD will eat Intel’s lunch in yet another area.
The “obsession with speed” notion isn’t as clear cut as imagined.
For me as a Brycer currently window shopping for new hardware, Intel is still where it’s at. But things are a bit weird right now, and in an uncooperative way. The “high-end” performance “bargain” chip for the last 15 months or so has been the 6-core 3930K. It was essentially on a par with (i.e. the same chip as) the more-than-twice-the-price 3960X / 3970X. But in recent weeks its price has rocketed (£430 - £485 on Amazon) and its overclocking potential has mysteriously declined. Very odd, and sufficiently off-putting. Intel is now constantly redrawing its “roadmap”, and rumours are rife that it will ditch its planned Ivybridge-E architecture altogether and leapfrog into the Haswell-E line.
The uncertainty has led me to investigate pre-used 2 to 3 year old Xeon technology. It is possible to buy professional grade dual 4-core workstation kit (i.e. 8 physical cores + 8 virtual) for a similar price as 3930K level setups. You sacrifice the latest tech (SATA III, USB 3.0, etc) but get loads of good old fashioned Bryce-friendly floating point number crunching.
Fortunately, I’m only at the window shopping stage and can easily wait. When I bought my current components back in 2007/8, I decided I wouldn’t upgrade until the tech achieved truly double the (Bryce) performance at an equivalent price. It’s there now, but the horizon is sufficiently enticing to wait a bit longer. Especially seeing as I can’t escape work until mid-May at the earliest (bloody hell).
Speaking of work, our ancient and decrepit office Pentium-3 / Win-XP computers are to be replaced imminently. That’s (one of) my job(s) and, given that floating-point calcs aren’t a priority, AMD based kit is right up there sharing the top of the list. No fanboyism here (despite previous accusations), just pragmatism.
The really scary thing is how expensive full Windows7 OS packages have become. If you wish to avoid Windows8 on a self-build, it will now cost you dearly…