It has been a relatively interesting year in the world of chips, but not exactly an exciting one.
If we ignore the issues that Meltdown and Specter have thrown up, there has been a great deal going on with processors and soCs in 2018, somewhat more remarkable than others.
AMD took off the covers of its second generation Ryzen processors based on the Zen architecture, based on the success of the first-gen chips that for the first time in bloody age seemed to challenge Intel.
Silicone disks such as the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X were found to support speeds up to 5.8 GHz when overclocked by some serious processors pushing liberal use of liquid nitrogen cooling. These types of speeds aren't exactly attainable by everyone, but when the Ryzen 7 2700X already hits a healthy 4.3GHz out of the box, it's not just a slow CPU to begin with.
As such, AMD debuted a second set of processors that could properly stand up to Intel's Core-Eighth-Gene-Core lineup, although the new Ryzens were more of a step up on their predecessors than the Revolution's first Ryzen chips. was to reinvigorate AMD.
Talking about Core processors, Intel continued to update its eighth generation Core line up this year, and moved from the Kaby Lake R architecture to the first generation Coffee Lake design.
Although there had been no limits to Intel's underlying architecture, when it had been stuck on a 1
For apps and workloads that can tap into multi-threaded processing, multiple cores are a blessing, but while Coffee Lake delivered a little more performance and efficiency, there was barely a mega-step up from Kaby Lake.
Having said that, it is nice to see that eighth generation mobile Core chips are now sports quad-core configurations that can increase up to 4.5 GHz, at least with the "U Series"; Former Kaby Lake R eighth-gen U-Series Core chips could not deliver as much clock speed oomph, despite offering quad-core configurations.
Intel debuted it with Coffee Lake update with ninth-generation Core processors. Again, this was a development of the 14nm process Intel has been using for a while.
The update increased the core value of Core i7 to eight cores and provides more performance, but is not exactly a revolution over past processors.  This rise will come with Intel's Sunny Cove chips, as it revealed just like 2018, starting to wave goodbye. We know very little about the chips, but they promise to finally bring 10nm processors to the Core CPU line up, which will deliver a good step up in the performance of Coffee Lake chips.
When it comes to architecture changes, AMD will bring its Zen 2 Design to the market next year in the form of third-generation Ryzen chips. Zen 2 will see that AMD makes the jump to the 7nm process code, which will deliver processors with large dockops of power and decent efficiency simultaneously.
AMD's Navi graphics architecture is also set to create a look next year, and will also tap into the 7nm fabrication process. It will be necessary, besides getting its Polaris GPU architecture down to a 12nm process with the Radeon RX 590, AMD's graphics game for 2018 hasn't really been amazing.
While Team Red worked to squeeze out as much as possible from Polaris, Nvidia went and revealed the Turing architecture, promising real-time ray tracing in single slot graphics cards.
And Team Green achieved it … quite. The advanced GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080 and RTX 2070 all have some smooth ray tracing capabilities, as well as some deep learning systems to enhance pixel polishing. But they are expensive and ray tracing is barely common at the moment. In combination with the performance, it seems to give most games, we suspect many will not buy the GeForce RTX cards for ray tracing alone.
Nevertheless, the Turing architecture that supports the graphics cards and chips is impressive and shows how Nvidia I really like to push graphics technology, which paves the way for a time when ray tracing will become more popular.
In the segment for mobile shock, there was a little bit of interesting silicon work going on. The first was Huawei's disclosure of the Kirin 980, a 7nm SoC that delivers a serious dose of mobile performance coupled with ease of all kinds of AI smarts.
The chip was a real challenger for Qualcomm's rather ubiquitous Snapdragon 845 chip found in the bodies of OnePlus 6T and Pixel 3.
Apple also decided to show that it can make mobile chips with the best of them and reveal A12 Bionic in iPhone XS. The A11 chip in the iPhone X was not slim, but the A12 Bionic really showed Apple's ability to create custom chips based on the ARM instruction set.
We took more of a deep dive into the A12 Bionic at the time, but the SoC remains impressive and offers blistering fast processors and graphics performance and a series of smart features. The A12X Bionic was then shown off and popped into the new 11 and 12 inch iPad Pro models, promising power that can compete with many fresh portable processors.
The only problem with the A12 Bionic SoCs is how many developers will actually work to tap into the full potential of the chips; We cannot help feeling that there is a lot of force on pressure that people do not yet use.
It is perhaps the most exciting mobile chip of the 2018 Snapdragon 855. At first glance, it looks like a simple upgrade on Snapdragon 845, but dig a little deeper and you will find it has much more to offer.
It is claimed to be the world's first SoC with an image signal processor that has data sewing built in to facilitate sharper smarter photography chops, and it will also pack Qualcomm's latest AI Engine to add more smarts onboard upcoming Android phones.
But the real remarkable feature is that it is likely to be the first common mobile SoC to provide 5G connectivity, thanks to the use of the Snapdragon X50 modem chip.
With the promised 5G rollout next year in selected British cities and a series of next-generation Android phones using Snapdragon 855, the chipset will really help drag 5G from just on the horizon to a new level of mobile e broadband that people will actually be able to utilize, provided they have deep enough pockets to afford a flagship Android smartphone. Anyway, Snapdragon 855 can be a bit of a switch.
And it's about it for chips in 2018. The mobile segment probably saw the most interesting development, but moments in desk tops this year promises impressive pieces of silicon for 2019. As always, we will see and wait. μ