After announcing plans to make Core chips embedded with an AMD Radeon graphics component as a way to give Nvidia a run for its money, Intel has dropped another bombshell barely a week later: the company has hired AMD's former graphics boss, Raja Koduri, to lead a new group that'll design high-end discrete GPUs.
Intel To Develop Discrete GPUs
This suggests Intel is aggressively going after the graphics business of both AMD and Nvidia. Intel is primarily known for manufacturing processors. While it integrates a graphics component in its chips, gamers and pro users are more accustomed to buying discrete GPUs from either AMD or Nvidia for editing, gaming, rendering, and similar heavy-duty tasks. An Intel CPU and GPU could be all they need.
Starting in December, Koduri will head Intel's new Core and Visual Computing Group. He left AMD this week, leading to speculation whether he'll join Intel or Nvidia. But it wasn't clear if he would continue working on graphics or tackle something more specialized, like artificial intelligence.
Intel Aggressively Going After The GPU Market
"We have exciting plans to aggressively expand our computing and graphics capabilities and build on our very strong and broad differentiated IP foundation," Intel's chief engineering officer, Murthy Renduchintala, said, adding that Koduri's expertise in graphics "will add to our portfolio of unmatched capabilities, advance our strategy to lead in computing and graphics, and ultimately be the driving force of the data revolution."
Koduri is an esteemed engineer, considered as one of the stars in graphics computing. He's been in the business for 25 years, most recently leading development on high-end AMD Vega chips. Before that, he had a brief stint at Apple, during which he helped develop Retina displays for the iPhone and other products.
At Intel, Koduri will develop "high-end discrete graphics," the graphics industry's term for powerful, high-performance GPUs typically used for intensive gaming and, more excitingly, machine learning and artificial intelligence, both of which Intel also excels in.
Still, it might take a few years before those GPUs are developed, let alone come to the market. AMD's Vega chips just came out this summer.
Asked about Koduri's new position, AMD seemed unwavering.
"We have a very strong graphics team and will continue our focus on building great products," an AMD spokesperson said. "We also have industry-leading graphics IP and, if necessary, will vigorously defend it."
Intel sells the most processors out of all players in the chip market, but its GPU business hasn't been as strong as Nvidia's or AMD's. Hiring Koduri to lead in-house development of proprietary GPUs means Intel is gearing up to compete with Nvidia and AMD, both of which should be very worried right now. Consider this: Intel already makes great CPUs. What if its would-be GPUs also turn out great? What happens to Nvidia or AMD, then?