Intel has quietly axed its weird combo chips with AMD graphics

Chris Davies - Oct 9, 2019, 10:22am CDT
Intel has quietly axed its weird combo chips with AMD graphics

Intel’s oddball Kaby Lake-G chip collaboration with AMD is being axed, with the combo CPU and Radeon GPU product failing to catch the attention of laptop-makers. Announced back in late 2017, Kaby Lake-G came as an unexpected surprise: an 8th Gen Core processor from Intel, paired with custom AMD Radeon graphics, all in a single chip.

While the CPU and GPU were separate dies, they were connected with what Intel was calling an Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge. Effectively a special PCIe link, it made for a single package containing the processor, graphics, and the graphics memory.

The upshot, Intel and AMD said at the time, would be around performance and size. The new EMIB interlink could transfer data between the components faster than traditional architecture, it was suggested, and since it was embedded into the substrate it would also make the whole assembly thinner. That, the two companies promised, would pave the way for thin-and-light notebooks that still included discrete graphics.

Unfortunately for Kaby Lake-G, however, manufacturers didn’t seem so keen. A few notebooks launched using the product, but then Intel threw its future into uncertainty with its own graphics chip roadmap. Earlier this year, it unveiled Intel Xe, a new graphics architecture that will span everything from ultraportables through to workstation and enterprise markets.

Now, predictably, Kaby Lake-G has received its marching orders [pdf link]. The eight current products – which include either Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs – have received a final order date of January 31, 2020, with the final shipments by July 31 of the same year.

“Intel is refocusing its product portfolio,” the company told Tom’s Hardware in a statement. “Our 10th Gen Intel Core processors with Iris Plus graphics are built on the new Gen11 graphics architecture that nearly doubled graphics performance. We have more in store from our graphics engine that will bring further enhancements to PCs in the future.”

Even Intel itself was lackluster in the end about the AMD tie-up. For a while, the company used Kaby Lake-G in its NUC range, but even then it was a short-lived offering.

For now, the focus is on Intel’s Xe graphics, about which only a little is currently known. Intended to be a more potent option to satisfy the power demands of gamers, they’ll arrive with the Intel Graphics Command Center, a tool with which enthusiasts will be able to tinker with the settings of the GPUs to balance things like performance and energy consumption.

Must Read Bits & Bytes