From exascale computing to 5nm graphics cards and 8K gaming, the most anticipated products of the year 2021 will bring unprecedented innovation, speed, and performance. These are the most promising announcements and our predictions for next year’s computer technology evolution.
A year ago, no-one would have been able to foresee how 2020 would leave an indelible mark on our collective memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all areas of our lives, from how we work to how we communicate with each other. Throughout this experience, technology has played a big part in helping us cope and adapt to the new challenges.
We’re now approaching the end of the year, and alongside the hopes for a vaccine that can finally ease restrictions to movement, we’re looking at what 2021 will bring for the computing tech sector.
Several exciting announcements have been made for products that promise to revolutionize the computer industry. Below are some of our predictions based on the technologies we look the most forward to.
The growth of computer power had seen growth at an exponential rate for many years. However, during the second half of the 2010s, we’ve seen a slowdown in the rate of progress.
In 2018, IBM unveiled the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit, which retained the title in 2019 and 2020. Several challengers are, however, being developed by China, the US, the European Union, Japan, India, and Taiwan. These are all expected to be deployed during the early and mid-2020s. In 2021, China will design and manufacture processors locally (for example, the Tianhe-3), which could reach a sustained exaFLOP performance. An exaFLOP is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 floating-point operations per second.
Exascale computing could lead to revolutionary advances in a variety of fields thanks to greater scale simulations. For example, neuroscientists might be able to finally simulate the entire human brain in real-time.
Intel’s Rocket Lake Chip
The first quarter of 2021 could see the launch of the 11th-generation Intel’s Rocket Lake processors, the company’s first new microarchitecture for PCs in five years. The announcement was made just a few days ago, on the cusp of AMD’s hotly-anticipated Zen 3 processor statement which followed the next day. AMD processors are expected to be branded Ryzen 4000 or 5000 and launch later this year.
The details of the new Rocket Lake are not particularly well-kept. We know that the processors will support PCIe 4.0 for the first time and are largely thought to come with a new PCU microarchitecture.
The ship's clock speeds could meet or exceed the company’s current 5.4 GHz peak boost, setting the stage for an intense competition between AMD and Intel in 2021. Additionally, MSI has already announced that all of its B450/X470 motherboards will support the new Ryzen CPUs.
Nvidia and AMD Graphics Cards
In September, Nvidia announced the launch of its new RTX 3080. The graphics card, built with enhanced RT Cores and Tensor Cores, is so popular that there are currently waiting lists to get one.
Nvidia is reportedly now readying its new 5nm graphics cards for 2021. Apparently, the company has already booked capacity with chipmaker TSMC. According to DigiTimes, Nvidia and TSMC will produce next-gen graphics products based on the Hopper architecture. Hopper is, according to rumors, the next step after Ampere and is named after American computer scientist Grace Hopper. As well as using TSMC for its 5nm products, Nvidia is reportedly also going to work with Samsung for a smaller amount of orders.
CES 2021, which will take place in January 2021, might see the launch of AMD’s long-awaited RDNA 2-based Big Navi graphics cards. It seems that a next-gen 7nm GPU war between AMD and Nvidia is ensured for 2021, with Nvidia (currently dominating the discrete PC graphics cards arena) executing the first preemptive move.
Artificial Intelligence, Superfast Gaming, and More
Artificial intelligence (AI) is, without a doubt, one of the biggest tech trends now - and it’s definitely going to stay that way for 2021.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen an urgent need to quickly analyze and interpret data about the virus. Governments, academic research centers, and global health bodies came together to develop new ways to gather and work with information. In the coming years, we should expect machine learning algorithms to become increasingly sophisticated and better informed, uncovering a whole new range of solutions. Computer vision, in particular, will continue to play a crucial role in gaining high-level understanding from digital images and videos.
With the new and upcoming range of GPUs (which, at present, already double the performance of their predecessors), 4K gaming could become more affordable in the PC world. Even 8K is a possibility with the next line of cards, like Radeon’s RDNA 2 architecture, which includes hardware-accelerated ray tracing and variable-rate shading.
It’s been reported that several companies are also working on DDR5 RAM for PCs (LPDDR5 can already be found in the Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphone), a hint that the technology is waiting for more compatible CPUs to officially launch at a massive scale.
Overall, 2021 looks like a very promising year for computer tech. With brand new hardware and more intelligent software, we will definitely see an industry boom in the months to come.