Intel has reportedly inked a major deal with AMD to license Radeon graphics technology from the chipemaker. HardOCP's Editor-in-chief Kyle Bennet claims the deal has already been sealed and would be at the expense of AMD's graphics rival Nvidia.
The licensing deal between AMD and Intel is signed and done for putting AMD GPU tech into Intel's iGPU”
This development comes after rumors surrounding a graphics IP deal with Intel and AMD had been circulating for months, as Intel's deal with Nvidia neared its end.
A Bit Of Background, Intel's Original Deal With Nvidia
In 2011 Intel signed a graphics licensing deal with Nvidia which included a $1.5 billion dollar sum payed over five years to Nvidia. However, Intel never ended up producing chips with Nvidia's graphics technology. On the other hand, there's indication that the company's new deal with AMD could in fact translate to Radeon technology inside upcoming Intel chips.
Regardless of whether the prospect of Intel CPUs with Radeon graphics materializes, the new AMD deal would mean that Nvidia will not be able to renew its original, which accounts for approximately 6% of the company's revenue. More importantly, it means that Intel will be safe from any future potential patent infringement litigation from its ex-partner.
What This Is Really About - Intel's Protection Money Will Now Go To AMD
The purpose of the new graphics licensing agreement, just like the original, principally is to protect Intel from patent infringement claims. The deal that the company signed with Nvidia in 2011 was actually to settle a lawsuit by the latter over claims of patent infringement.
Both AMD and Nvidia hold a massive portfolio of patents directly involving or relating to graphics technology developed over decades. Due to the complexity of modern graphics chips, for Intel or any other company to attempt to build its own it would have to navigate through what's analogous to a legal minefield. The key to coming out of the other end unscathed is to strike a deal with either of the two big graphics players.
Kevin Krewell, Forbes
With the complexity of PC graphics, it’s impossible to build a graphics processor without infringing on any number of patents from both AMD and NVIDIA, because the two companies dominate the PC graphics technology.
[...] As such, Intel lags on graphics IP and in order to build integrated graphics, Intel has no choice other than to infringe on a number of existing graphics patents. As part of the 2011 legal settlement with NVIDIA, Intel took the opportunity to sign a patent license agreement within NVIDIA to cover graphics processing. If Intel now signs a patent agreement with AMD, Intel could let the NVIDIA license agreement expire and be replaced by this new AMD agreement.
This leaves the question of why? Why has Intel decided to strike a deal with AMD rather than renew its existing agreement with Nvidia. Well, there are a few potential reasons. One good bet is that it likely got a better deal from AMD. Another is that, despite the company's strong rivalries, they actually have a long history of working together on industry standards on the CPU side. Both companies have had a long-standing x86 cross-licensing agreement and it would make sense that Intel would want to look to establish something similar on the graphics side of its business.