The rivalry between Intel and AMD is legendary, even though AMD has all but conceded the battle in recent years. While Intel comfortably dominates the CPU market, AMD is still a strong player when it comes to GPUs, and now the two chipmakers are teaming up to take on a common enemy, Nvidia.
The 8th generation H-series processors from Intel will change how we think of CPUs and GPUs in computers. Instead of a separate GPU (or a low-powered embedded one), the new processor will integrate a CPU, a GPU, and RAM in a single module that uses Intel’s Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) to connect all the components.
Custom design. Intel hasn’t revealed specs or in-depth details about the new processor, but we know it will integrate a “semi-custom” GPU from AMD. The GPU appears to be a modified version of AMD’s Radeon GPUs, in the vein of the graphical chips that AMD supplies for the Xbox One X and PS4.
All-in-one Besides the CPU and GPU, the chip will integrate stacked second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2), which is comparable to GDDR 5 RAM in traditional laptops. Having all of these components in one module will cut down power consumption in half, according to Intel, and reduce the footprint of the design by 2.9 square inches. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could make a world of difference for product designers, enabling larger batteries, improved thermals, and thinner form factors.
Gaming performance in a thin package – that’s Intel’s big promise for the new chip. Gaming laptops tend to be thick and heavy, due to the beefy, high-performance components inside. But customers favor sleek designs, so Intel is attempting to offer the best of two worlds with this new chip. The most serious gamers will probably still prefer discrete GPUs, but for everyone else Intel’s CPU+GPU+RAM module could be more than enough.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The chip sees Intel and AMD join forces against Nvidia, which dominates the high-end discrete GPU market. If AMD manages to put its graphic chips in mass-market Intel processors, it could steal market share from Nvidia, without having to compete directly with it.
No details yet, and the devil is always in the details. Price, in particular, could be crucial in the success of this new chip. Intel says it will start shipping as early as Q1 2018, so we should find out soon.