Intel's Got Game? Ex-AMDer Chris Hook Joins Company's New Discrete GPU Team

Intel has added another famous player to its discrete-graphics dream team. Chris Hook, who recently left AMD after 17 years leading the company's global marketing efforts, announced via his Facebook page that he has joined Intel (statement below). His arrival fuels speculation that the CPU maker will be coming out with its own line of gaming GPUs to compete with Nvidia and AMD.

Hook will lead Intel's marketing for visual technologies and discrete graphics products. As such, Hook appears to be Intel's first dedicated marketer for discrete graphics cards. Hook joins ex-AMD'ers Raja Koduri, who is leading Intel's graphics design teams, and Jim Keller, who joined Intel last week to head up its silicon engineering.  

Intel's re-entry into the discrete graphics card market came as shocking news earlier this year. Intel has made two prior attempts to bring a discrete gaming GPU to market, but it eventually shuttered both programs. The chip-maker hasn't confirmed that it will target the gaming market with its new products, instead saying the GPUs are designed for "a broad range of computing segments.”

Given Hook's history, his hire will certainly fuel speculation that Intel is developing gaming GPUs, which would make sense from a broader perspective. 

Intel is focusing on increasing sales in its "data-centric" businesses, which doesn't include desktop PCs. Overall, those segments accounted for 46 percent of Intel's revenue last quarter, with the high-margin Data Center Group leading the charge. The data center is rapidly transitioning to AI-heavy workloads due to power efficiency and performance gains, and GPUs are used for a broad range of those workloads.

Intel has multiple products for AI workloads, but data centers use GPUs for many of those same tasks. For example, Nvidia claims it can replace up to 300 Xeon processors, which consume 15 racks of space, with a single DXG-2 server. That certainly threatens to chip away at Intel's Xeon sales, so developing GPUs for the data center is a no-brainer.

Much like Nvidia does with its GPUs and Intel does with its desktop CPUs, sales to the broader desktop PC market drive up production volume and build the economy of scale that lowers costs. In turn, that assures low pricing and high margins. Intel will likely need to build GPU production volume in the PC market to compete with Nvidia's pricing, so we doubt that Intel will reinvent the wheel with its production model.

Intel's maneuvering comes after it has made some structural changes to its hierarchy, which is likely to deal with production challenges with the 10nm process. The company is obviously bringing in some of the industry's top guns to expand into GPUs at the same time, which is a smart tactic. It's helpful to have experienced hands at the helm when you're testing new waters.

We're sure to learn more about Intel's future discrete graphics cards in the coming months. Here is Hook's statement (via Facebook):

Friends, I’m exhilarated and energized to be starting a new marketing leadership role at Intel in Santa Clara, CA.Intel is a company I’ve long admired and is without a doubt the finest silicon engineering company in the world. It also has a rich history of processor innovation dating back to the Intel 4004, which was released the year I was born. It has an equally rich history in marketing innovation, having succeeded what was once the unthinkable - turning what started as an unassuming 16-pin black ceramic integrated circuit into a household name and notable consumer brand.As many of you know, it was recently announced that Intel is embarking on a journey to expand its leading position in integrated graphics for PC with high-end discrete graphics solutions for a broad range of computing segments, and will be growing its technology portfolio across computing, graphics, media, imaging and machine intelligence for clients and data centers, AI, and edge computing.That’s a pretty exciting journey, and one I personally want to be part of. So starting tomorrow, I’ll be assuming a new role in which I’ll be driving the marketing strategy for visual technologies and upcoming discrete graphics products.I’m also excited to meet the Intel team. The folks I’ve met there so far are the best in the world at what they do; they’re laser-smart and driven to win. And there are also a few good Intel folks that I’ve had the privilege of working with in the past at AMD, world-class engineering leaders Ari Rauch, Raja Koduri and Jim Keller, who at multiple points in their careers have architected and engineered some of the most respected software and silicon in history.So here’s to the future – one with competition, choice and incredible technology.Cheers,Chris

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • DookieDraws
    Hoping Intel will have great success in the GPU market. We need more players in the discrete GPU game.

    Let's go, Intel! I am pulling for you!
  • mattkent
    In about 5 years Intel should be in very dominant position with the talent they have been gobbling up. Despite Intel's issues with 10nm, I doubt AMD will gain much marketshare... although consumers don't really know what powers their system anymore... so I may be overvaluing Intel's brand name power. Regardless, AMD has lost it's top talent, so they won't have anyone to develop future plans once the next generation Zen architecture comes out.
  • tamalero
    Its interesting the technique of intel, despite having craploads of talent, craploads of money and technology. They still get bamboozled by a small company like AMD. And their only technique is to BUY talent from other companies to manage to stay relevant.
  • SockPuppet
    Dont get excited. As a 20 year Intel employee, I can tell you that our senior management team is comprised of morons that have no idea how to run a business. Its like theyre purposely ramming the ship into every iceberg they see on purpose, but the strength of the Xeon plated hull stops them from scuttling our vessel.
  • photonboy
    WHERE is a single, official statement that has the word "gaming" that indicates Intel is going after gaming on desktops?

    Breaking into the gaming market is very, very hard. You've got advertising, drivers (for both new and games years old) etc.

    I think Intel is more likely to focus on non-gaming first then maybe go after gaming if things are going well.
  • photonboy
    I wouldn't say they were "bamboozled" by AMD. I think a more accurate description of the ecosystem is to say that Intel illegally kept AMD down by dirty tactics, then AMD rallied enough to gobble up the low-hanging fruit in the x86 ecosystem.

    As an architecture is improved there is less and less room for improvement. Combine that with the challenge of shrinking nodes (die size) and you see that really both Intel and AMD are converging on the "optimal" x86 design year-over-year.

    There's not much left that's interesting in x86 CPU's (AFAIK) which is is partly why Intel needs to focus on GPU's.

    When it comes to Server CPU's you have to balance a lot of things including cost and reliability so it's tricky to convince people to switch, but what's really interesting to me is STOCK PRICES.. when you're really big already how do you improve the stock prices?

    The underdog can often continue to get revenue streams in the hopes that when they do well the stock price can go way up. If they go from say 1% to 5% that's a big deal.
  • SkyBill40
    Why this would come as any surprise whatsoever to anyone in the computing space would be genuinely surprising. As soon as he left AMD, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion he was going to Intel.

    They're going to need more firepower than what they've assembled if they want to compete with teams green and red. While another competitor o ly adds intrigue and potentially drives development going forward, they're going to need some luck to go along with what they've assembled thus far.
  • milkod2001
    AMD had pathetic marketing, comes us surprise it had any. This guy leaving AMD is actually huge win for AMD and loss for Intel.
  • Plumboby
    Intel are up to there old tricks again buying AMD employees to strangle AMD as finally AMD next Gen Ryzen chips have forced Intel to buy all the decent eggineers off AMD to get there node size down to beat AMD but can only get a 10nm yet Ryzen will be7nm by end of year & I suspect when Nvidia release there next gen cards AMD will probly test the 7nm in the Vegas at lease before maybe Navi next year but you never know, if AMD has there process right with testing I suspect to see 7nm in AMD at least. I am going with Ryzen with my next build I like the core value. OC doesn't bother me but the multi thread workloads is where I rather it, the more cores & threads I can get for better values out of a chips that have given Intel a scare. I am a Intel user but going AMD switch Minimum R2600 at least for 6/12 value where simular $ just for an i5 6/6 the R2600 got bang for buck with added support & carries same AM4 socket with all APUs being released. It be intresting to see Intels try the GPU segment with the way Nvidia & AMD with the next gen could be a game breaker or complete tax write off for Intel. AMD has gained alot of traction on the Market & the releases AMD are releasing are scaring Intel & if AMD can get the 7nm being close or to by end of year early next Intels 10nm aint going to cut it why the using Vega with there Laptop cpus. Hmm funny that & funny that they been poaching staff from AMD. I actually hope Intel fails & AMD gets that jump they need the old top dogs needs the Bulldog of AMD nipping at there heals.
  • vinay2070
    AMD purchased the Entire ATI to get into the graphics business. Intel purchased just 2 members :)