Intel Puts the Kibosh on Reports It Will License AMD GPU Technology

One of the more intriguing (and if we’re being honest, slightly weird) rumors from last year was that AMD and Intel might cooperate on a GPU patent-sharing deal, or possibly a direct design agreement in which AMD would build GPUs for its largest competitor in the CPU space. The only reason we gave the idea any consideration at all was because AMD had reorganized its graphics unit into the Radeon Technology Group (RTG) specifically so that it could have more freedom to pursue ideas and potential revenue sources. A custom agreement with Intel would definitely qualify.

One issue that we hadn’t grappled with (and should’ve), however, was the nature of Intel’s agreement with Nvidia. While it’s true that this agreement ended earlier this year, with the final revenue payment from Chipzilla to Team Green, Mark Hibben of SeekingAlpha has correctly pointed out that the actual patent license that Intel struck with Nvidia is perpetual. Intel hasn’t lost access to any NV patents as a result of completing its license payments, and therefore doesn’t need to sign an agreement with AMD to replace them. We regret not catching that properly the first time around, and possibly giving more life to a rumor in the process. The idea that Intel needed a deal with AMD or Nvidia is false (or, at the least, it’s false until such time as one or more parties start flinging around lawsuit threats).

The idea of Intel building a GPU with AMD had legs, because it also seemed as if it might address the only real weakness Intel CPUs possess. AMD’s Ryzen may be better positioned as far as performance per watt, but Intel continues to build an extremely capable CPU core, and could easily trim its pricing to bring its cores more in-line with AMD’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 families. But as far as GPU performance is concerned, outside its models with EDRAM, AMD is still considered to have an overall edge. Certainly it has an edge in terms of overall IP and expertise, and that could have been enough to spark a deal with Intel…at least in theory. Of course, it didn’t hurt that AMD’s GPU market share had fallen to an all-time low around the same time, which could have left the smaller manufacturer more interested in any agreement it might make to expand its own market access.

JPR-QuarterlyShipments

AMD’s graphics sales have begun to rebound, but the company has fallen hard the past five years. Figures like these made a deal with Intel easier to imagine.

Intel, however, has reached out to put the kibosh on such rumors. In a statement sent to Barrons, Intel stated, “The recent rumors that Intel has licensed AMD’s graphics technology are untrue.” The company has said that further information will not be provided.

AMD has said that its upcoming APUs based on Ryzen will also use the company’s Vega graphics architecture (we had expected Polaris to be tapped for this), and will appear in-market in the back half of this year. Overall GPU performance is expected to increase by 40 percent compared with Carrizo, with significant reductions in power consumption and a 50 percent gain in CPU performance. If the company succeeds in hitting these goals it should be quite competitive with Intel in its lower-watt power envelopes, and more able to compete against the company in both desktops and laptops.

It would’ve been cool to see an Intel CPU with an AMD GPU alongside it on the same piece of silicon. But AMD GPU fans shouldn’t have to feel like they’re picking between decent graphics and acceptable CPU performance once Ryzen APUs debut later this year. At least, that’s the goal — but we’re a lot more optimistic about AMD’s chances of hitting its targets, now that we’ve seen what Ryzen can do.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtremeTech