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Intel Adds AMD GPU to Kaby Lake

November 28, 2017

Author: Linley Gwennap

Taking coopetition to a new level, Intel announced plans to team up with archrival AMD to build a highly integrated notebook processor, then two days later announced it had hired that company’s top GPU architect. The new cooperation aims to solve a problem for high-performance notebook PCs. These systems, often used for content creation and mobile gaming, require more graphics horsepower than Intel’s integrated GPUs can provide; thus, they typically add an AMD or Nvidia graphics chip along with its associated memory. These extra chips consume lots of board area, however, making it difficult to cram such an arrangement into the ultrathin form factor that’s increasingly popular.

Intel’s new product, so far unnamed, offers the best of both worlds: high-performance graphics in a relatively small package. This package combines an Intel 8th Generation processor with an AMD graphics chip and 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). The package employs Intel’s EMIB technology to connect the GPU and HBM. The company already uses EMIB in its Stratix 10 FPGAs and will also use it to combine Xeon processors with FPGAs. The technology is less expensive than other interposer approaches but still adds cost compared with single-die packaging.

Just as Intel and AMD prepared to smoke the peace pipe, however, news emerged of a major coup: Raja Koduri, longtime chief architect of AMD’s GPU products and leader of its Radeon Technologies Group, resigned his positions to join Intel, where he will lead a new strategy to greatly expand the company’s GPU portfolio. It plans to build high-end discrete GPUs for graphics, computing, media, imaging, and deep learning, competing against AMD and Nvidia in these segments. Other than Jensen Huang, Koduri is the best person to drive such a strategy.

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