SAN FRANCISCO — Intel and AMD — bitter rivals for decades — have partnered on product that integrates an Intel Core processor, a semi-custom Radeon graphics chip and second-generation High Bandwidth Memory into a single processor package.

The move, rumored for more than a year, is seen by analysts as a win for AMD and an indication that Intel is willing to go to new lengths to partner even with competitors in search of new avenues for growth. It's also a challenge to graphics chip maker Nvidia, a common foe of both AMD and Intel.

Jon Peddie, principal of Jon Peddie Research, said in an interview with EE Times that Intel's willingness to partner with AMD rather than insist on using home grown technology is indicative of a new attitude by the biggest U.S. chip maker. "Intel has demonstrated extraordinary enlightenment and shed the 'not invented here' attitude that has crippled so many companies," Peddie said.

"The growing threat from Nvidia in both graphics and AI acceleration has turned the long-running battle between Intel and AMD into a situation of strange bedfellows," said Rob Lineback, a senior research analyst at IC Insights.

A comparison showing high-performance CPU with discrete graphics and second-generation High Bandwidth Memory on a traditional board (left) and the 8th Gen Intel Core processor that combines the components all on one package. Source: Intel
A comparison showing high-performance CPU with discrete graphics and second-generation High Bandwidth Memory on a traditional board (left) and the 8th Gen Intel Core processor that combines the components all on one package.
Source: Intel

In a blog posting on Intel's website, Christopher Walker, a vice president in Intel's Client Computing Group and general manager of its mobility client platform, said the partnership is the result of identifying an opportunity to enable thinner, lighter and more powerful laptops with the high-end graphics demand by PC enthusiasts for applications like gaming. Most current  enthusiast mobile PCs have Intel Core H-series processors plus higher-powered discrete graphics, resulting in systems that average 26 mm in height, a stark contrast to the trend toward thinner, lighter laptops that are 16mm thick of less, Walker said.

Christopher Walker
Christopher Walker

Both Intel and AMD have processors that include embedded memory that utilize shared memory. But, according to Peddie, real high-performance graphics require dedicated memory with a wide a memory bus as possible. Intel does not have its own discrete graphics chips, not does it plan to, Peddie said.

"The fact is, Intel just can't produce a competitive GPU, especially as it struggles with its process technology," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "Intel has tried entering the discrete GPU several times without success."

Jon Peddie
Jon Peddie

Peddie called Intel's Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology the "secret sauce" that makes it possible to package three heterogeneous devices in a small package and make them work together while also managing power consumption. Intel describes EMIB as an intelligent bridge that allows heterogeneous silicon to quickly pass information in extremely close proximity.

"It's like something out of science fiction," Peddie said.

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