INTEL HAS GRAPHICS CARD ambitions if a prototype of a discrete GPU it showed-off is anything to go by.
The chip maker showcased a prototype design for an in-house graphics acceleration unit based on a 14-nanometre process at the excitingly named IEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, reported PC Watch.
The shot of the prototype design is titled "complete graphics system to run workloads", which doesn't say a lot but would suggest that this could be a GPU for workstations and servers rather than a gaming-grade graphics card.
That would make sense as that GPU segment is already fiercely fought over by Nvidia and AMD.
Furthermore, Intel has entered into a partnership with AMD and created a Core i processor with AMD graphics on the same chip, so it'll likely want to avoid pissing off AMD; the two firms are more than used to duking it out in the CPU arena.
Key features of Intel's prototype graphics unit is that it has two chips. The first houses the main GPU and a system agent, while the second has a field programmable gate array (FPGA) that looks after bus interface and the PCI bridge.
Other than apparently sporting 1.542 billion transistors, there's diddly-squat in the way of other information, such as performance, stream processors, video memory, and all the other stuff that determines how many pixels a GPU can polish and drive at once.
And as this chip is just a prototype there's a good chance it might never see the light of day. Instead, it could be a bit of willy-waving by Intel to show off it's engineering prowess and distract people from focussing too closely on the Meltdown and Spectre flaws or suing the chip maker for them.
Intel then told The INQUIRER that the GPU protype was simply proof-of-concept, shooting down suggestions that it could be a future product.
"Last week at ISSCC, Intel Labs presented a research paper exploring new circuit techniques optimized for power management. The team used an existing Intel integrated GPU architecture (Gen 9 GPU) as a proof of concept for these circuit techniques. This is a test vehicle only, not a future product," the chipmaker said.
"While we intend to compete in graphics products in the future, this research paper is unrelated. Our goal with this research is to explore possible, future circuit techniques that may improve the power and performance of Intel products."
If nothing else, the graphics chip could be a precursor to a new generation of Intel processors that actually have capable built-in GPUs, with lessons learnt from producing a discrete graphics chips.
As ever, time will tell. µ
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