Here, Intel’s software team plays a critical role, both in managing power as well as ensuring that the right drivers are in place for optimizing performance.
“If I look at this as one system with one driver package, with one Intel-delivered driver set, we’re able to apply things like our Dynamic Platform Framework,” Walker said, referring to a set of Intel-designed thermal management technologies that can manage the CPU, GPU, and memory simultaneously.
The Dynamic Platform Framework will allow the system to tweak and balance the three platform components dynamically, based on workload, system state, the temperature of the PC chassis, and more. Naturally, tasks like movie playback will still be routed to the Core chip’s existing, integrated graphics core, Walker said. The integrated 8th-gen Core chips already contain dedicated, optimized logic to play back 4K video using the HEVC or VP9 codecs chosen by streaming content companies like Netflix and Amazon, while using minimal power.
One interesting wrinkle: Intel will be responsible for supplying the drivers for the Radeon GPU, though company engineers won’t write the original code. An Intel representative said they’re working closely with AMD’s Radeon business to supply “day one” drivers for new games, when those drivers become available.
Intel’s graphics business is alive and well
Speculation that Intel might license or outright buy AMD’s Radeon business has circulated for years, especially as AMD has struggled to achieve profitability. AMD, however, enjoyed a rare profit of $71 million on $1.64 billion revenue for the just-completed third quarter, helped by sales of its Ryzen processors and Vega graphics chips. AMD’s semi-custom business, which usually sells chips to game consoles, could use a boost: It reported flat sales year-over-year. (AMD also said it closed an unspecified patent licensing transaction “which positively impacted revenue,” though officials confirmed that the Intel deal wasn’t it.)
Intel has dominated the PC graphics market, thanks to the integrated graphics cores inside its Core processors.
It’s possible that the Core-Radeon (Core-R, perhaps?) deal may yield a longer-term relationship. But right now, AMD seems to be positioning it as a single contract with a customer, like any other.
“We’re constantly looking at different things inside AMD, but this is really Intel’s project,” said Scott Herkelman, the corporate vice president and general manager within the Radeon Gaming business unit within AMD. “It’s completely semicustom...I wouldn’t say that we’re going to take this and learn something from it. This is Intel’s project, and we’re helping them execute on it.”
Last January, speculation rose that Intel and AMD had signed a Radeon licensing deal, prompting talk that Intel might be preparing to lay off or otherwise get rid of its own integrated graphics development teams. Walker denied it. “Not at all,” he said.
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