Hardware

Chipmakers Intel and AMD announce historic partnership to better compete with Nvidia

A new, next-generation laptop chip pairs Intel's processor with AMD's customer graphics chip for a better PC experience.

Former rivals Intel and AMD are partnering on a next-generation laptop computer chip for PC users, in a move likely meant to challenge competitor Nvidia.

The laptop chip—part of the 8th Gen Intel Core family—will bring together Intel's Core H-series processor, second generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2), and a custom graphics chip from AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, all in a single processor, according to a Monday blog post from Christopher Walker, vice president of Intel's Client Computing Group and general manager of the Mobile Client Platform.

The chip reduces the usual silicon footprint to less than half that of standard discrete components on a motherboard, Walker wrote in the post. "That's more freedom for OEMs to be creative and deliver innovative thin and light designs with improved thermal dissipation," he wrote. "It also delivers space to add new features, create new board layouts, explore new cooling solutions or increase battery life."

As ZDNet noted, the purpose is to give the CPU/GPU bundle the power needed to run games and content creation applications without having to have a separate GPU in the notebook, saving on space and reducing costs.

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The chip is the first consumer product to take advantage of Intel's Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB), "a small intelligent bridge that allows heterogeneous silicon to quickly pass information in extremely close proximity," Walker wrote. This eliminates height impact, as well as manufacturing and design complexities, making for more powerful, efficient products in small packages.

The power sharing framework is a connection among the processor, graphics chip, and graphics memory, with software drivers and interfaces in the semi-custom discrete GPU that coordinates information among all three elements.

"Not only does it help manage temperature, power delivery and performance state in real time, it also enables system designers to adjust the ratio of power sharing between the processor and graphics based on workloads and usages, like performance gaming," Walker wrote. "Balancing power between our high-performing processor and the graphics subsystem is critical to achieve great performance across both processors as systems get thinner."

The solution will also be the first mobile PC to use HBM2, consuming less power and taking up less space than traditional discrete graphics-based designs. Overall, the chip will allow for thinner, lighter notebooks, 2-in-1s, and mini-desktops.

"Our collaboration with Intel expands the installed base for AMD Radeon GPUs and brings to market a differentiated solution for high-performance graphics," Scott Herkelman, vice president and general manager of AMD Radeon Technologies Group, wrote in the post. "Together we are offering gamers and content creators the opportunity to have a thinner-and-lighter PC capable of delivering discrete performance-tier graphics experiences in AAA games and content creation applications."

The partnership marks the companies' first collaboration since the 1980s, analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy told The Wall Street Journal, and was likely forged to battle joint competitor Nvidia. Nvidia holds nearly 80% of the market for stand-alone graphics chips by revenue, in direct competition with AMD, and competes with Intel on artificial intelligence chips for large corporations, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Intel also recently partnered with Waymo to work on fully autonomous cars, ZDNet reported.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. Intel and AMD are partnering for the first time in decades on a next-generation laptop computer chip for PC users.

2. The partnership is likely meant to help the two companies better compete against Nvidia in the graphics chip space.

3. The chip will allow for thinner, lighter notebooks, 2-in-1s, and mini-desktops.

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Image: Intel Corporation

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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