Intel Officially Confirms: Entering Dedicated GPU Market In 2020


Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has stated in an analyst meeting (via MarketWatch) that Intel will be rolling out its first dedicated GPU sometime in 2020 - corroborating the leak that we reported on a couple of months  back. This is the first official confirmation of the company's dGPU ambitions and predicts the first year in recent history that we are going to be seeing three GPU players in the market - namely Intel, NVIDIA and AMD.

Intel CEO: Intel will enter discrete GPU market in 2020

At the same time, this quashes some rumors we had had been hearing about a possible 2019 release for an Intel graphics card. It typically takes around 3 years for a company to take a GPU from the drawing board to tape out - so planning to hit the 2020 window will be an ambitious goal for Intel - one that Raja Koduri will be front and center for. Keep in mind however, that unlike before, Raja will have access to an almost limitless R&D budget and the best foundries on the planet, so while the timeline is definitely aggressive - its not altogether impossible to meet.

I have seen concerns of NVIDIA getting aggressive with IP infringement lawsuites with Intel rolling out its own GPU (there is no such thing as a brand new GPU IP) but this is something that is never going to happen for the sole reason that NVIDIA has already sold off the base GPU IP (and the one most likely to cause issues) to Intel back when it was licensing Intel's iGPUs. That cross-licensing agreement stays active into perpetuity and is what basically allowed the company to build its own line of GPUs. In other words, NV sold its right to sue Intel for building its own GPU for a mere $1.4 billion. Of course, had it known at that point that the company would ever be interested in the dGPU market, the cost would have been much much higher.

What we know so far about Intel's dedicated GPU efforts and the product code-named Arctic Sound

We covered Intel’s upcoming Arctic Sound and Jupiter Sound a while back and while it seemed that Raja Koduri would be focusing primarily on edge and datacenter applications with Intel’s discrete GPU division, more information has surfaced which tells a different (and very interesting story). It looks like Arctic Sound is going to have a gaming variant after all and will be landing sometime in 2020.

The codenames of Intel’s upcoming discrete GPUs are Arctic Sound and Jupiter Sound. Arctic Sound will be the first iteration of Intel discrete GPU and will constitute 12th Generation graphics. According to Eassa, they will be fabricated using the EMIB (Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge) to connect to the processor which means we will almost certainly be looking at integrated packages like the Vega MH and Intel 8809G. So far, however, it was thought that these solutions will be restricted to edge applications – but this is no longer the case.

Arctic Sound, as it transpires will have a gaming variant as well. Which means we are going to be seeing this in the mainstream in a few years. The tentative timeline given for this product is by 2020 and knowing how roadmaps work could even even further off. According to Ashraf’s sources, the Arctic Sound discrete GPU will be an MCM module with multiple dies connected via EMIB and will go head to head against Intel and AMD’s offering. So here it is folks, its (unofficially) official: Intel is entering the graphics card market to take on the Red-Green duopoly although considering their working relationship Intel and AMD might have a friendlier relationship than NVIDIA.

The use of an MCM technique will allow Intel to keep pace with both NVIDIA and AMD which have years of experience over the former – but its world-class fabrication facilities might give it the edge it needs – no pun intended. Raja Koduri’s experience will, of course, be instrumental to Intel’s dGPU ambitions and could singlehandedly put the company on the gaming graphics map. Raja is already working on Arctic Sound and the design process is underway. Intel’s fabs will, of course, require significant re-tooling so increased R&D on their financials will be one indicator that the company has started work on the project.

The successor to Arctic Sound will be Jupiter Sound which will constitute the 13th generation of Intel graphics. Timeline for this product is as yet unknown but we shouldn’t expect it to exist on anything except paper right now. Depending on how successful Arctic Sound is, we should see a big leap in performance going forward from the 1st generation of Intel discrete graphics (Arctic Sound). This isn’t the first time Intel has ventured into the discrete graphics section (Larabee) but this is the first time they have done so with this much ambition, talent, gusto and frankly- the requisite technical level.