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Intel and AMD team up: A future Core chip will have Radeon graphics inside

Mark Hachman | Nov. 7, 2017
Absolutely incredible! Intel will ship a chip powered by AMD's Radeon graphics next year to bring top-tier, triple-A games to the thin-and-light notebook market.

It sounds crazy, but it’s true: Arch-rivals AMD and Intel have teamed up to co-design an Intel Core microprocessor with a custom AMD Radeon graphics core inside the processor package, aimed at bringing top-tier gaming to thin-and-light notebook PCs.

Executives from both AMD and Intel told PCWorld that the combined AMD-Intel chip will be an “evolution” of Intel’s 8th-generation, H-series Core chips, with the ability to power-manage the entire module to preserve battery life. It’s scheduled to ship as early as the first quarter of 2018. 

Though both companies helped engineer the new chip, this is Intel’s project—Intel first approached AMD, both companies confirmed. AMD, for its part, is treating the Radeon core as a single, semi-custom design, in the same vein as the chips it supplies to consoles like the Microsoft Xbox One X and Sony Playstation 4. Some specifics, though, remain undisclosed: Intel refers to it as a single product, though it seems possible that it could eventually be offered at a range of clock speeds.

The linchpin of the Intel-AMD agreement is a tiny piece of silicon that Intel began talking up over the past year: the Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge, or EMIB. Numerous EMIBs can connect silicon dies, routing the electrical traces through the substrate itself. The result is what Intel calls a System-in-Package module. In this case, EMIBs allowed Intel to construct the three-die module, which will tie together Intel’s Core chip, the Radeon core, and next-generation high-bandwidth memory, or HBM2.

Editor's Note: Some people are beginning to refer to this chip as the Kaby Lake G, a name that Intel representatives said they will not confirm. A spokeswoman referred to it as "rumor and speculation."

The story behind the story: You heard right: This is AMD and Intel, working together. Shaking hands on this partnership represents a rare moment of harmony in an often bitter rivalry that began when AMD reverse-engineered the Intel 8080 microchip in 1975. But in graphics, the two are much more cordial: Intel’s low-end, integrated cores own the majority of the notebook PC market, while AMD is pinched between Intel and Nvidia’s high-end chips. Intel, meanwhile, is no friend to Nvidia, having paid out $1.5 billion in licensing fees since 2011. The enemy of my enemy is my friend—that’s one explanation for how the deal came about.

laptop
Mark Hachman / IDG

Intel showed a reference notebook of the sort that will be enhanced by the AMD-Intel partnership. The large, black blank space is designed to be used for drawing with the stylus and for other digital content creation.

 

AMD and Intel: A win-win for all concerned

 

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