What AMD and Intel’s partnership means for PC gaming

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On the left, we see the two parts of the AMD graphics. The smaller chip has the dimensions of an HBM2 stack, so this will likely feature a single HBM2 module. HBM2 does support multiple stack densities, so it could be anything from 2GB to 8GB in capacity. AMD’s Vega GPUs currently use 4GB or 8GB stacks, and given this is supposedly a high-end graphics solution, I wouldn’t expect anything less than 4GB VRAM.

Moving over to the biggest chip on the package, the AMD GPU is quite large, particularly for a mobile product. This can’t be a full Vega 10 equivalent with 4096 shader cores, as looking at the Vega GPU implies a chip at least twice the size of the one being used by Intel, but we could conceivably be talking about 2048 shader cores. But again, it’s a rendering that might not be fully to scale, so really it’s going to be in the range of 1024-2048 cores.

[Update: According to some early leaks, it looks like the maximum configuration will have 1536 cores, while lower tier parts may disable some of the compute clusters. Clockspeeds appear to be in the 1000-1150MHz range.]

With 1536 cores plus HBM2 memory, that would put performance somewhat below the RX 570, but well above the RX 560, which would still be a good spot for a thin and light gaming laptop. Power use remains a question mark, but tweaking the architecture and clockspeeds can do wonders for chip efficiency (eg, the R9 Nano). And that’s about as far as we can go right now on the specs.

One final piece of information is that AMD doesn’t view this as a threat to the mobile Ryzen APUs. Those are designed to compete in a lower performance bracket, both on the CPU and GPU fronts. Ryzen 7 APUs will have 640 shader cores, with a 4-core/8-thread CPU, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for Intel to beat that with their 4-core/8-thread CPU and a 1024 core (or higher) AMD GPU. It will likely end up priced higher than the Ryzen 7 offerings, though that all remains to be seen.

Overall, this is really exciting news, and I agree we’ll see this make its way into desktops—or at least all-in-ones—in the future. We’ll probably see this chip at CES in January, based on what I’ve heard today.

Tuan: This is one of the most exciting pieces of hardware news in the last decade. I feel like I’ve been a broken record when speaking to people about innovation in the hardware space. While it’s true that AMD and Intel have partnered before, today’s announcement is a bold move for both companies.

First, it signals to me that Intel doesn’t believe its graphics solution has any more legs. It’s run its course in terms of performance. While Intel’s Iris Pro is pretty decent for low to mid-range gaming laptops—Steam user stats indicate Intel graphics to be hugely popular—it won’t do for higher end gaming.

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