Intel CEO tells the world benchmarks no longer matter

Posted on Thursday, June 04 2020 @ 12:23 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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In a keynote speech for the digital version of Computex, Intel CEO Bob Swan tried to persuade listeners that benchmarks are a thing of the past and that the industry should focus more on the "benefits and impacts of the technology."

ExtremeTech offers some analysis over here. The site correctly writes that benchmarks indeed have weaknesses, for example a benchmark can't tell you how pleasant a laptop is to work with, but it also highlights that the only reason why Intel is suddenly banging this drum is because it's feeling the head from AMD's Zen. It's indeed true that it's hard to write objective reviews about certain type of products as a lot of the user experience is very subjective. Just because I really like the way a keyboard from manufacturer A types, doesn't mean you will like it.
As much of a point as Swan has regarding the limitations of benchmarks, there’s no way to disentangle his comments from Intel’s current competitive position vis-à-vis AMD. Currently, it’s not that great. This isn’t a repeat of 2004-2005 when Intel was saddled with Prescott and Smithfield, but AMD has taken the overall lead in the CPU market for any use-case beyond gaming — and the gap in gaming is pretty marginal.

Bob Swan knows this, of course, which is at least part of why there’s a remark about how COVID-19 is a reason to shift away from benchmarking. The idea of emphasizing the benefits and impacts of technology on a work from home situation make good sense, given that WFH is very new to a large group of people — but it’s best deployed alongside test metrics, rather than in lieu of them.

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