We may be on the cusp of one of Nvidia's most exciting GPU launches in recent history, but Intel isn't letting us forget that its also got game in the GPU space. Soon, it will have more.
Intel's newly-minted graphics group has set up a new twitter account (Intel Graphics), and in a bit of marketing glory, the first tweet features a video revealing a shadowy new discrete GPU with a faint hue of blue that should arrive in 2020. Aside from the single-slot design, the image doesn't give us much to go on.
Lest we forget, the video also reminds us that Intel "lights up quintillions of pixels across the planet every day," which is a true statement based on the fact that, courtesy of its integrated graphics chips in its CPUs, Intel is the world's largest GPU producer. Now the company is bringing that experience to the discrete GPU market, and yes, that means it is bringing gaming-focused GPUs to market.
Translating that experience in integrated graphics to its new lineup of discrete GPUs isn't going to be an easy task: the last successful entry into the GPU space occurred 25 years ago. But Intel has an IP war chest (at one point it owned more graphics patents than the other vendors combined) and has been on a full court press recruiting the right talent for the task.
Famed graphics architect Raja Koduri recently abdicated his leading role at AMD's Radeon Technology Group to join Team Blue's newly-formed Core and Visual Computing Group. The new group is working to bring Arctic Sound (the rumored GPU codename) to market by 2020, but it also takes a few other ingredients beyond "just" the hardware to make real waves in the graphics market.
Intel also has to beef up its driver group, which is notorious for slow graphics driver releases. In a sign of things to come, Intel has increased the cadence of driver releases lately, with a heavy focus on zero-day releases. Koduri has also taken to Twitter recently to profess the importance of software to the graphics ecosystem, so we know the company is headed in the right direction on that front. Remember, market-leader Nvidia employs more software engineers than hardware engineers, so success in this area is key.
And then it takes marketing magic like we see with Intel's first tweet from the graphics group. Hype fuels GPU releases, look no further than the noise generated by Nvidia's impending launch as proof, and Intel brought in hypemaster Chris Hook from AMD to head up the company's graphics marketing. Hook is Intel's first dedicated marketer for graphics, and it appears he's getting started early.
It'll take a while to see the culmination of these efforts, but Intel's 2020 target date means the new graphics cards should come packing its oft-delayed 10nm process. That means the GPU could be exceedingly competitive against AMD and Nvidia's offerings, even in 2020.
Intel's past two failings at discrete GPUs, which includes Larrabee, still hang thick in the air. But the company's entrance into the discrete GPU arena has the potential to upend the established AMD and Nvidia duopoly. Jensen Huang doesn't seem to feel particularly threatened, and AMD has been silent on the matter. The hardware and software will tell the story, but we'll have to wait until 2020 to see the end result.