CES 2021 Coverage: A Virtual Show Floor


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I write this on the final day of CES 2021, and I expect CES will never be the same. It will not revert back to what it once was. I also cannot imagine it stays a totally virtual show; in doing so, I feel it would fail. Does that mean I think the 2021 show was a failure? No, not at all. In fact, it was a very good event, particularly in light of the medical and political pandemic that we have been enduring.

A Little History
The first CES took place in June 1967 in New York City as a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show, which, until 1966, was also the most popular event for exhibiting consumer electronics. Over the years, the show grew, moved to Las Vegas, added the attendees and exhibitors that had been obtained by COMDEX, and became the signature event to showcase all electronic industry products from TVs to computers, drones to 3D printers, and complete ready-to-use devices to components. If you wanted to compare ready-to-use advanced computers or if you want to compare computer motherboards and power supplies, etc., you’d attend CES or learn what was announced during the show.

Looking at the Future
Why then, do I predict a decline and potential failure if CES permanently transitions to an all-virtual format? It’s all about economics, plain and simple. Any company that exhibits at CES must pay to do so and cover the costs of exhibit space transportation, set up, and company time. This year, most of those costs (aside from a likely registration fee) simply were not a factor. Some of the companies I wanted to see and speak with had actually set up their own events during CES, but totally separate from CES. They sent out notices and many of us attended those events and received a benefit similar to what we would have just attending CES. In fact, unless you tried to look up an event on the official CES site, you may not have realized that it was an independent event.
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I do expect that future CES shows will contain a significant virtual segment, but I certainly feel—in fact, I hope—that next year at this time we will be wrapping up coverage of a new normal, with major similarities to previous in-person shows.

Now, here are some of my observations on the virtual events and presentations at this year’s Virtual CES (with the understanding a few of these may not have been part of the actual CES 2021.)

AMD
AMD kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Lisa Su, CEO and president of AMD. I have seen some of her other presentations, and she is a very impressive and successful leader. With her at the helm, AMD has made great progress.
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While AMD is far from the global market share leader, its Zen architecture CPUs have gained respect over the last few years as the most advanced and respected performance leaders in the DIY/high end computer universe. The company’s big announcement was “the introduction of a complete portfolio of AMD Ryzen™ 5000 Series Mobile Processors, bringing the highly-efficient and extremely versatile and powerful ‘Zen 3’ core architecture to the laptop computer.” The new Ryzen 5000 Series mobile processors provide unprecedented levels of performance and excellent, perhaps previously unseen, battery life for anyone using a laptop—gamers, creators, and business professionals. New laptops powered by Ryzen 5000 Series processors will be available from major PC manufacturers within the next few months.

AMD also announced the AMD Ryzen PRO 5000 Series Mobile Processors, which will provide enterprise-grade security and seamless manageability to commercial users. Over the next year, AMD expects a broad portfolio of more than 150 consumer and commercial notebooks, based on the Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile Processors, will become available. AMD is also announcing reduced-TDP (power consumption) alternatives to the award-winning AMD Ryzen™ 9 5900X and AMD Ryzen™ 7 5800X desktop processors, coming to pre-built OEM systems only. Powered by the new “Zen 3” core architecture and with a lower 65W TDP, the Ryzen 9 5900 desktop processor offers an average of 24% faster 1080p gaming across select titles compared to the prior generation 7.
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As AMD progresses, it is expected that the high-end Ryzen and Threadripper series of processors used by custom and DIY builders will continue to become available. Keep in mind we are talking up to 16-core, 32-thread processors.

So, what does this mean to the average reader here? For myself, I have built and maxed out my own computers for the last 25 years. Until this year, I have always used an Intel CPU; this year, I decided to use a Ryzen 9 CPU and Zen motherboard and I can testify that the performance and reliability is amazing.

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