Russell Sherwood Thursday, January 7, 2021
Here we will get an obvious one out the way. I initially thought of this as hardware but, on reflection, it is not as simple as that.
Chess Engines dominate modern cc, and it is assumed that the player with the bigger hardware will prevail and upgrading hardware is a path to success. However, it is not as simple as this.
Any computer has a given level of processing power, so upgrading hardware will increase processing power. However, what really matters is overall computing resource. In its most simple sense this is processing power x analysis time. Sin theory improved analysis can be achieved by increased processing power or increase analysis time.
In practice this equation would have a number of other inputs, including effectiveness of analysis and creativity of analysis, but we will look at these at a later point.
So, we can increase our processing power as a path to winning but what tends to happen is that is can become an “arms race” with other players with diminishing returns.
For players, unable or unwilling, to increase their computing resource the option of increasing their Analysis time is an option but this comes with its own set of issues, primarily the significant reduction in the number of games which can be played concurrently.
So what hardware should the player look to obtain. This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer and much depends on your choice of supporting engine and analysis methods. For a period of time High-end graphics cards were a must as LC0 achieved a level of dominance. Then when Stockfish NNUE came on the scene, CPUs became more relevant again. Now Ceres is coming the needs to change again.
For the aspiring player there are a few key choices
Intel or Ryzen (as a general rule Intel chips will have fewer but more powerful threads) – which of these is most useful depends on your approach to analysis – which will be covered in a future article.
As far as a high-end Graphics card goes – much depends on your view of the value of MCTS engines. Personally I believe they are worth having, if you can afford them. In not then alternatives such as Fat Fritz and online LC0 offering exist.