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AI blamed for nerfing AMD CPU gaming performance

Neural processing units may have come at the cost of larger cache pools in CPUs, which would benefit processor and graphics performance.

An AMD Ryzen CPU with a Windows CoPilot logo layered on top of it

Tech companies across the board are going all-in on AI right now, but this focus may have already come at the expense of AMD processor performance. More specifically, AI is now seen as the reason behind alleged redesigns of upcoming CPUs, with neural processing units (NPUs) being prioritized over other specs.

While AMD processors rank among the best gaming CPUs alongside competitors, the company has effectively cornered the market when it comes to integrated GPUs (iGPUs). After all, there’s simply no alternative that compares to the Ryzen 5 8600G save for its more expensive sibling. However, it appears that its NPU, a currently superfluous addition for gaming purposes, may have replaced a more welcome pool of performance-enhancing cache.

A post on the Anandtech forum by uzzi38 (via WCCFTech) boldly claims that the AI Engine (AIE) on upcoming ‘Strix Point’ AMD APUs came at the expense of including system level cache (SLC). SLC particularly benefits APUs such as those found in the Steam Deck, given their sensitivity to system memory speeds when it comes to performance, as the cache is much faster.

The push for enhanced AI capabilities on processors is undoubtedly spurred by the advent of Windows Copilot. That said, though, Microsoft’s operating system assistant isn’t the only Windows 11 feature to be powered by artificial intelligence, with more undoubtedly on the way.

Given the fervor behind artificial intelligence, we’re unlikely to see NPUs go the way of dedicated PhysX cards or other extinct bits of hardware (Nvidia 3D Vision, anyone?) Still, this doesn’t make the sting of what could have been done with that die space any less painful. The best we can hope is that, in the future, NPUs will earn their place in the gaming space at some point.

Perhaps we’ll see the first signs of this emerge in AMD’s new Zen 5 CPUs, which we now know are going to be part of the Ryzen 9000 series. In the meantime, we thankfully still have the Ryzen 7 7800X3D with 3D V-Cache technology as a fantastic gaming CPU.