It is the most simple and basic of principles: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This is exactly what semiconductor giant Intel is applying when they look over their shoulders and see NVIDIA rising up and gaining plenty of clout and influence in the industry. NVIDIA started off pretty small (don’t they all) by concentrating on what still is their bread-and-butter product: dedicated graphics cards and chipsets for the computer world. Well, NVIDIA has seen many competitors come and go over the years, from 3DFX to AMD over the years, but have successfully fended them off and rise all the way to the top of the pile, wielding great influence in the semiconductor world. This has certainly not gone down well with the folks over at Intel, which is why they have now turned to their once major rival in the computer processor industry to help them out -- AMD. After all, everyone has a stake to claim in this game, with Intel requiring the know-how in terms of graphical power, while AMD is in severe need of a cash injection that Intel can provide. Either way, their teaming up would be a no-brainer when it comes to going up against the might of NVIDIA, as both of them too, have some beef to settle with NVIDIA.
AMD’s role in this partnership
Where does AMD come in as part of the equation? AMD right now happens to be the top dog in console-based graphics, and to see them make a move to cement a partnership with Intel is certainly something unexpected among industry observers. Still, there has been rumors circling around all year long, and something more concrete was shared earlier this week as Kyle Bennett, who is a mainstay at enthusiast hardware site HardOCP.com, put up a link that pointed to an agreement between Intel and AMD. Bennet mentioned on HardOCP’s forum, “The licensing deal between AMD and Intel is signed and done for putting AMD GPU tech into Intel’s iGPU.”
So far, both Intel and AMD has not stepped forward to confirm or to deny the deal, and have remained mum about the situation. This has not fazed Bennet, where he continues to stedfastly stand by his comments, spicing things up a bit more with the following statement when contacted by PCWorld.
“To my understanding, Intel has a team of about ~1,000 engineers working on their forward-looking iGPU technology. Basically, that work will be scrapped and that team and their work will be replaced with AMD teams and technology going forward. There are also Apple implications here as well, and this deal is good for Apple assuredly.”
The timing of the entire partnership does make plenty of sense as Kevin Krewell, an analyst with Tirias Research, put forward a couple of possibilities. Firstly, Intel is on the lookout for patent protection, with both NVIDIA and Intel exchanging legal punches in 2009 concerning NVIDIA’s nForce chipsets that worked with Intel CPUs. The legal suits were settled half a decade ago, and NVIDIA would no longer come up with chipsets for Intel’s Core i7 CPUs, while Intel can then build graphics cores without being sued by NVIDIA. However, Intel had to fork out licensing fees to NVIDIA over the next half dozen years with a bill that hit a whopping $1.5 billion. Since AMD also does own plenty of graphics patents worldwide, hence it makes perfect sense of Intel to cozy up with AMD, and this deal will also provide AMD with a massive cash injection that would help them along in their research and development.
It would be interesting to see how the entire shebang pans out in the end though, so stay tuned.