Here's a sentence that's as exciting as it is unbelievable: Two of the biggest rivals in the chip industry are teaming up to create chips small enough to fit in thin and lightweight laptops but powerful enough to run high-end video games.
Those companies are none other than Intel and AMD.
They are developing a chip with an Intel Core processor and an AMD Radeon graphics unit, marking their first collaboration since the '80s. It'll be part of Intel's 8th-generation H-series of mobile processors, Intel and AMD told PCWorld. The chip will focus on power-managing the entire module for efficient battery consumption, which is fitting because it's meant for ultra-thin laptops.
The chip is expected to ship as early as Q1 2018.
How The Intel-AMD Collaboration Happened
The new chip is, of course, a joint project between Intel and AMD, but it was actually Intel who first approached AMD about the collaboration. AMD says the chip's Radeon core will be a single, semi-custom design, in the same vein as the chips it provides to Xbox One X and PlayStation 4. Some more important details, like variants, remain undisclosed. Intel refers to the chip as a single product — for now, at least. It's likely Intel has plans to offer the chip in a range of clock speeds.
Intel-AMD Chip: What's Inside
Central to the chip is a tiny piece of silicon Intel began talking about last year: the Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge, or the EMIB. They can connect silicon dies, which routes the electrical traces to the substrate itself. This results into what Intel calls a System-in-Package module. Essentially, EMIBs enable Intel to build a three-die model, which ties together the Intel Core chip, the AMD Radeon graphics unit, and high-bandwidth memory.
But enough about that. There's an important question people should be asking. Are Intel and AMD friends now?
Well, not exactly. Sure, a collaboration between competitors is a good thing, but the chip actually serves a grander purpose than handshaking between Intel and AMD: taking on Nvidia.
Intel competes with Nvidia in driving artificial intelligence innovation for large tech firms, and it has reason to be alarmed: Nvidia is growing rapidly. For several quarters, Nvidia's chip sales have been up by triple digits from the previous year. For Intel, that means companies are flocking to Nvidia for chips they could get from Intel. That's bad.
Intel and AMD's joint chip effort gives Intel a shot at some of the revenue that usually goes to GPU sales while generating new profits for AMD. More importantly, though, it gives Intel a chance to compete directly with Nvidia in the GPU market.
A Question Of Power
But a crucial question remains. Just how powerful will the new joint chip be? An AMD spokesperson already said it won't compete with AMD's Ryzen Mobile chips, for starters. Will it compete with high-end gaming laptops, then? Not quite. While it will appeal to serious gamers, the integrated Radeon graphics chip is only capable of running games — not specialized for it.
Thoughts or predictions on the upcoming Intel-AMD chip? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!