Intel entering the GPU market – Is this the end of the 20 year old reign of AMD and Nvidia?

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The graphics card market has been dominated by two companies for around two decades, although both have tried to make the graphics hardware affordable and at the same time making them efficient to work, the graphics card market has never been stable, either due to mining or due to the shortage.

The graphics cards are now finding their utilities in the market of data centers and AI, other than gaming and content creating. As a result, Intel, the world’s biggest Silicon manufacturer has decided to try its luck for the third time in the GPU market, there first venture in this market was by the name of i740 in the late 90s and then by the name of “Project Larrabee” in 2009, both were abandoned right after the processes were announced.

This time, however, Intel is seriously putting some firepower behind the project because they have made many adjustments in their teams to cater the requirements of necessary personnel to re-enter the GPU market.

It all started when Intel hired the former boss and chief architect of the Radeon Technologies Group, Raja Koduri who spearheaded the development of Apple’s chips and Radeon’s Zen architecture. It was clear at that time, that Intel is deciding to re-enter the market; they made Raja Koduri the senior Vice president of the company and the head of “Core and Visual Computing Group.” Shortly after this news break, the company announced that it is trying to make its way towards the GPU market.

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The company’s stance about GPU market was very vague till a few days back, when the Analyst Ryan Shrout had the news via MarketWatch, about a small meeting of the heads of the company where they decided to launch their first graphics cards in 2020. Shortly after the news, Intel announced on twitter that they are indeed working on the project that will be released during 2020. However, they did not announce that their first graphics card will focus on personal computers or the professional lineup.

Making a graphics card from scratch is not a child’s play even for the biggest silicon manufacturer, according to the experts of the field, the architecture required to build the chip requires almost three years of work. Intel hired Raja in November 2017, and the release date of 2020 is compelling us to believe that Intel has been working on the discrete graphics for a longer time in shadows. Recently, the ex AMD’s global marketing head Chris Hook has joined Intel as the Intel’s first dedicated marketing manager for discrete graphics. All these developments are making our earlier stance about working on the discrete graphics technology in shadows, concrete.

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At IEEE International Solid-State conference(ISSCC) Intel unveiled the very first prototype of their discreet graphics process, the early prototype was based on the 9th generation of the company’s onboard graphics hardware. It should be noted that it is the 9th generation of onboard graphics hardware, not the 9th generation of their CPU hardware.

The company boasted about the capabilities of their current technology, it is improving, but it is far behind of the Rival AMD’s Ryzen hardware. The prototype is built on a 14nm process with 1.5 billion transistors on board, for the sake of comparison Nvidia’s flagship 10-series card GTX 1080Ti is built on a 16nm process and has 12 billion transistors while the low-end GT 1030 card has slightly higher 1.8 billion transistors.

It means the prototype was of a low-end graphics card; it ranged from 50Mhz at 0.51V and 400Mhz at 1.2V, that is almost the same as the speed of their current onboard graphics. All in all, Intel’s intentions on the floor of ISSCC were not to showcase the ability of their process but to announce the world that it is capable of producing the discrete graphics cards.

Since the launch of Ryzen APUs Intel has been pushed back by the advanced merged technology of AMD’s CPU and VEGA’s GPU on a single chip, and due to the fact that all the console makers went for AMD’s chips in the past and for their next generation too.

SONY is speculated to have been working with Navi graphics of AMD for their new console. Recently, AMD announced that they have now acquired more than 40 percent of the gaming market, and it is now making mobile chips for the laptops too, essentially stealing the market from Intel. As AMD is far ahead of Intel regarding their merge technology, and their graphics technology, it would be a wise step from Intel to dive in the Graphics market, hoping to redeem its crown.

Lastly, we love the CPUs made by Intel, they are becoming more power efficient while making the performance better , with every new generation, the idea of getting the graphics cards from Intel has already made me excited. However, the first proper venture of Intel in the Graphics market may not be one of the best, their first graphics cards are rumored to be 10nm process, better than Nvidia’s 16nm process and at least on par with AMD’s upcoming 7nm process.

We do not expect any new hardware from team green (Nvidia) as their CEO said on the floor of Computex 2018, “the next generation is a long time from now”, and we already know about the team red’s (AMD) upcoming plans, addition of another member by the name of team blue (Intel) would surely make the GPU market interesting in the coming years.

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