There’s been a few conflicting reports of late regarding Intel’s rumoured deal with AMD to use AMD graphics chips in its processors. First of all Fudzilla reported two days ago that it had confirmation the deal had been done, rocketing AMD’s share value up 12%. Now, however, AMD’s investors meeting has been and gone without a whisper of a deal. AMD licensing graphics chips for Intel would be a huge earner, and it’s not the sort of thing you gloss over mentioning to investors. An Intel spokesperson confirmed as much, saying “The recent rumors that Intel has licensed AMD's graphics technology are untrue." This sent AMD’s share value plummeting back down 12%.
On AMD’s part, Tuesday afternoon's presentation indicated the Red Team had zero interest in lending a rival a helping hand, even if it would prove financially beneficial in the short-term. AMD instead chose to highlight its unique position as a provide of both graphics chips and CPUs, something which neither Intel nor Nvidia can tout. To that end, the only way you can get unified CPUs and GPUs is to go AMD, with AMD CEO Lisa Su saying this “really allows us to bring this together for the best of both worlds and really optimize the system.”
This leaves Intel in a bit of a tricky position. For the last five years Intel has been working a $1.5 billion graphics licensing deal with Nvidia. This was actually after Nvidia took Intel to court for patent infringement over its nForce graphics chips, resulting in a deal which would preserve peace between both companies. That deal is now up, so Intel is in pretty dire need of some integrated graphics solutions.
The obvious answer would be for Intel to do it all themselves. However, this is where things get tricky. Over the years, AMD and Nvidia have been busy patenting anything and everything to do with their graphics technologies. Intel making their own graphics chips would necessitate them having to navigate an absolute minefield of complex patents, effectively coming up with an entirely new method for creating a graphics processor. This would be a big, big challenge, which is why Intel went the route it did with the Nvidia deal.
The only over solution is to leverage the graphics patents once again. AMD appears to be uninterested, leaving Nvidia wielding a great deal of power over Intel, both companies which haven’t exactly seen eye to eye over the years.
All of this obviously leaves everyone in a sticky spot. Intel wants to license graphics technologies, AMD appears to be uninterested, and Nvidia is wielding a strong hand over Intel but there's no word of a deal.