AMD To Develop Semi-Custom Graphics Chip For Intel

In an interesting turn of events, AMD announced that it's creating a semi-custom GPU for a forthcoming Intel Multi-Chip Package (MCP). AMD's GPU will slot into an eight-generation Intel SoC that utilizes HBM2 memory, a first for a mobile PC, and Intel's EMIB interconnect. Both Intel and AMD confirmed development of the new processor.

There have been rumors, beginning with a forum post earlier this year by HardOCP's Kyle Bennet, that claimed AMD is developing GPUs for Intel. This led to quite the industry buzz, and a short-term stock gain for AMD, but it was ultimately largely dismissed as an unfounded rumor. AMD has also mentioned a big semi-custom chip win in several of its latest financial earnings calls, but declined to name the new customer. 

The Wall Street Journal reported the impending AMD/Intel announcement early this morning, which marks the first Intel and AMD collaboration in over a year. AMD released an official statement shortly thereafter:

“Our collaboration with Intel expands the installed base for AMD Radeon GPUs and brings to market a differentiated solution for high-performance graphics,” said Scott Herkelman, vice president and general manager, AMD Radeon Technologies Group. “Together, we are offering gamers and content creators the opportunity to have a thinner-and-lighter PC capable of delivering discrete performance-tier graphics experiences in AAA games and content creation applications. This new semi-custom GPU puts the performance and capabilities of Radeon graphics into the hands of an expanded set of enthusiasts who want the best visual experience possible.”

The Wall Street Journal claims the new chip will not compete with AMD's forthcoming Ryzen Mobile processors, which AMD hasn't officially confirmed, but seems to be true given the few details the company has released about the design.

Intel also released a statement:

The new product, which will be part of our 8th Gen Intel Core family, brings together our high-performing Intel Core H-series processor, second generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) and a custom-to-Intel third-party discrete graphics chip from AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group* – all in a single processor package.

Intel claims the new design will allow for thinner and lighter devices, such as notebooks, 2-in-1s and mini-desktops.

Intel gave us the details of its new EMIB (Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge) earlier this year at the Hot Chips conference. Our Hot Chips 2017: Intel Deep Dives Into EMIB article covers all of the details of the new technology. In a nutshell, EMIB is an interconnect that can tie multiple chips together into a single heterogeneous package.

Intel designed the technology to tie its chips together with 'chiplets,' which are small, re-usable, third-party IP building blocks that can be processors, transceivers, memory, or other types of components. Intel can mix and match the chiplets, much like Lego blocks, and connect them to its processors to create custom designs for different application use-cases.

The dawn of the chiplet marks a tremendous shift in the semiconductor industry. The industry is somewhat skeptical of the chiplet concept, largely because it requires competitors to arm their competition, but the Intel and AMD collaboration proves that it can work with two of the biggest heavyweights in the computing industry.

We'll follow up with more details as they come to light.

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