Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich has confirmed that the chip-maker will start shipping it’s very first discrete graphics cards by 2020. In a market largely dominated by NVIDIA, this could have some far reaching impacts. Rumors indicating Intel’s entry into the high performance GPU segment have been making rounds for months now and this is the official confirmation that it’s actually happening.
Raja Koduri jumped ship when he left AMD Radeon Technologies Group, and joined Intel as the head of the company’s graphics and compute initiatives. This was the aftermath of Vega’s lukewarm response and Koduri’s extended leave of absence from Radeon.
At present, NVIDIA has dominance over 72% of the discrete GPU market share while AMD is hanging on to less than a 30% (27.2 exact) of it. Definitely not team red’s worst days, but not the best either. Back in 2015, Radeon’s share dropped to a measly 18% while NVIDIA’s surged to 81%. Those were dark days for AMD. Thanks to a bit of help from cryptominers, they have regained a fair bit of lost ground in the discrete graphics card market since then.
It hasn’t been long since Raja Koduri joined Intel, and building a new architecture in a completely different hardware space (that too in a mere 2 years) is a daunting task. Furthermore, even if Intel does somehow manage it, if the resultant graphics chips can’t keep up NVIDIA and AMD’s offering, it’s going to be game over for both Koduri and Intel.
While Intel doesn’t need record breaking figures in the very first go, they at the very least have to be comparable to existing products both in terms of power draw and performance. The company can then work to improve and fine-tune the architecture.
Today GPUs are not just used for gaming, but a number of other sectors, including the growing field of AI and neural networks, servers, movie and animation industry, as well as various workstations.
At this point two outcomes are most likely. Either Intel fails to impress and their graphics cards slowly fade back into history. Or Intel’s GPUs gain traction and capture a major part of the market. If that happens, there’s a good chance that AMD might completely loose grip over their GPU market. This might in turn cause AMD to retire their Radeon division to fully focus on their new promising Zen architecture (Ryzen CPUs). There have always been two competitors when it come to the CPU and GPU market and I don’t really see that changing anytime soon.
However, this is just speculation at this point. Intel may not enter the gaming scene and could entirely focus their graphics division on professional and AI based applications. It’s a possibility especially considering that competition is less stiff in that segment. One thing is certain however, both the CPU and GPU markets are headed towards some interesting times, and all three companies, Intel, AMD and NVIDIA will be keeping a close eye on each other to ensure that they don’t get left behind.