For the first time in a very long time, Intel is getting ready to launch a discrete GPU, and we're all hoping it doesn't turn out to be another Larrabee situation. There is every indication it won't be, but is it fair to expect Intel to shake things up in a big way in the discrete GPU space? A prominent analyst thinks so.
In a new report, Jon Peddie Research outlined the state of GPU shipments in the fourth quarter of 2019. The research firm looked at both overall and discrete graphics shipments.
Overall, PC GPU shipments jumped 3.4 percent sequentially, but dropped 1.4 percent year-over-year. Big whoop—we're much more interested in discrete GPU data. As it pertains to that, JPR says discrete GPUs found their way to nearly a third of all PCs last quarter.
Nvidia held onto a dominating lead by accounting for 73 percent of discrete GPU shipments, leaving 27 percent for AMD (up from 26 percent the year prior). However, Jon Peddie believes Intel's entry into the space will be a "game changer" this year.
"This is the third consecutive quarter of increased GPU shipments, However, Q1 which is seasonally flat to down may show an unusual dip because of supply chain interruptions from China due to the coronavirus epidemic. 2020 is going to be a game-changer with Intel’s entry into the discrete GPU market and a possible fourth entry by an IP company," Peddie said.
It's a bold prediction, even though Peddie didn't offer up any specific number predictions. I also think it's a bit too ambitious of an expectation. I'm cautiously optimistic Intel will emerge as a legitimate player in the discrete GPU space (Raja Koduri, who oversaw the development of Vega at AMD, is in charge of Intel's graphics division), but I'm doubtful of Intel having a major impact so soon.
Building a discrete GPU from the ground up is not an easy task, and to do it quickly is even tougher. Intel put the world on notice of its plans to re-enter the discrete GPU space in November 2017, when it hired Koduri to lead its efforts. Work may have begun before then, but probably not in earnest, given that Koduri will want to put his stamp on things.
There's also the question of what Intel's initial efforts will look like. Intel recently handed developers a development board called DG1 (pictured top) based on its upcoming Xe graphics architecture, and in testing it, Jarred was underwhelmed. To be fair, Intel said its DG1 hardware is not representative of the final product that will ship to consumers (it's only for developers), but it's also all we have to go on at the moment.
Intel has not yet announced exactly when its first discrete GPUs will ship, only that they will arrive this year.