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Intel to return to discrete GPU arena

Back in the game after eight years

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Intel has committed itself to developing a discrete graphics product. It's been suggested for some time that it might have such a scheme in mind given the success of its integrated graphics products, and the fact that arch-rival AMD now owns ATI.

Intel hinted at such a move last month, but this is the first time it has come clean and admitted what it's up to.

The chip giant's statement of intent is all there in black and white on its website. Originally spotted by a Beyond3D forum poster, the situations vacant portion of Intel's online presence has a second devoted to the company's Visual Computing Group (VCG), which is "focused on developing discrete graphics products based on a many-core architecture targeting high-end client platforms".

If that's not about creating discrete GPUs for gaming and digital content creation, we'd like to what is.

The VCG is separate from the Chipset Graphics Engineering Group (CGEG), which again shows this isn't about making better integrated products, though we're sure VCG's efforts will feed into what the CGEG is doing.

Intel's last discrete graphics chip was 1998's i740, a product of the chip giant's 1997 acquisition of Chips & Technologies. At the time the i740 was knocked on the head, in 1999, Intel had two other GPUs in the works: the i752 and the i754. The i754 was canned around the same time as the i740 because the i752 was considered to be more than sufficient for the task in hand. Intel may have sampled the i752, but so far as we know it never made it to market, being canned later in 1999.

AMD's plans for ATI are predicate on its view that GPU technology will eventually be incorporated into the CPU as one core among many. Since Intel is building up its VCG team now, it's hard to see it offering product in the near term, so it's entirely possible it is working to the same gameplan as AMD, by establishing its own GPU team rather than acquiring one.

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