Wednesday, November 8th 2017

Intel Hires Raja Koduri, to Develop Discrete GPUs, This Time for Real

Intel hired Raja Koduri, who resigned as head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group (RTG), earlier this week. Koduri has been made Senior Vice President and Chief Architect of Intel's future discrete GPUs. That's right, Intel has renewed its dreams to power high-end graphics cards that compete with AMD and NVIDIA. Intel's last attempt at a discrete GPU was "Larrabee," which evolved into a super-scalar multi-core processor for HPC applications under the Xeon Phi line.

This development heralds two major theories. One, that Intel's collaboration with AMD RTG on graphics IP could only go further from here, and what is a multi-chip module of Intel and AMD IP now, could in the future become a true heterogeneous die of Intel's and AMD's IP. Two, that the consolidation of AMD's graphics assets and IP into a monolithic entity as RTG, could make it easier to sell it lock, stock, and barrel, possibly to Intel.
Intel places great faith in Koduri's ability to either develop a major product line from scratch, or to effect tectonic shifts in the industry, such as Apple's transition to the x86 architecture for its Mac product line.

Intel could have one of three approaches to build a discrete GPU from scratch. The first and most obvious one would be to scale up its current gen 9.5 architecture. The trouble is, that Intel's SIMD parallelism is more transistor-heavy than even NVIDIA. It takes roughly 400-500 million transistors (coarse estimate) on the "Kaby Lake" die to build a GPU with 24 execution units. With 10 billion transistors, we're looking at around 480 execution units, if not more.

The second approach would be to build a new graphics architecture from scratch. Something like this, even with Intel's deep R&D pockets, could take a team led by Koduri 3-4 years. The resulting architecture has to relevant to the market of the time, or end up missing the bus like Larrabee. The third approach would be to either license or acquire GPU IP from AMD. Koduri has the reputation of a tech business strategist as much as an IP guru to effect such a change.

These are strange times in the vale, as silicon giants Broadcom and Qualcomm look to coalesce into the world's third largest chipmaker, and Marvell with Cavium follow on. Stranger things are currently happening between past industry rivals, than the possibility of Intel acquiring RTG from AMD in exchange for cash, and allowing AMD's merger with another chipmaker without affecting its x86 license. This is just a really audacious theory.
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71 Comments on Intel Hires Raja Koduri, to Develop Discrete GPUs, This Time for Real

#1
Jermelescu
Is there any GPU Jim Keller AMD can hire to bounce back into the game?
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#2
2901BitSlice
natr0n said:
This shit keeps getting more weird.
YOU GOT THAT RIGHT !

The prognostications and speculations just keep getting wilder and wilder. It's like a contest to see who has the most fertile imagination. Intel buy RTG outright from AMD ? Hey btarunr pass that Waterpipe my way !

BTW something else for people to consider. The state of the art in Silicon Semiconductors will be pretty close to the end in 3 or 4 years. There will be few if any node shrinks to put extra transistors. GloFo will be at 7nm (maybe 5nm) and Intel will be at 5nm. By 2025 Samsung will be at 4nm and TSMC at 3nm.

Jermelescu said:
Is there any GPU Jim Keller AMD can hire to bounce back into the game?
Who says AMD is out of the GPU Game ? Vega and Navi are almost finished and there are plenty of other people at RTG capable of finishing the job.
Posted on Reply
#3
Jermelescu
2901BitSlice said:
Who says AMD is out of the GPU Game ? Vega and Navi are almost finished and there are plenty of other people at RTG capable of finishing the job.
I'm not denying that there are some great folks working at RTG, but I believe that the firm needs a very capable guy to lead the big bounce back to take the lead in performance & efficiency and even if I'm an AMD fanboy myself I sincerely doubt Navi will be a game changer.
Posted on Reply
#4
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
jigar2speed said:
Polaris and Vega is not what he worked on. Navi is his baby...
And they're not even failures IMO.
Posted on Reply
#5
EarthDog
Failures? No. Disappointment both internally and externally for gaming, yup. For compute... not so bad. :)
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#6
Dante Uchiha
Now Intel can create GPUs to compete against AMD and Nvidia? Nvidia and AMD does not hold all licenses of this segment? O-o
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#7
Prima.Vera
R0H1T said:
Unless Raja does a Levandowski wrt Waymo, Intel will still need a good number of years before they come close to the current AMD let alone Nvidia in the dGPU business, these two are just way ahead of the pack including ARM ones.
Most likely enterprise driven for now, there's just way too much money left on the table for Nvidia & Intel can't let that happen.Intel to Develop Discrete GPUs, Hires Raja Koduri as Chief Architect & Senior VP
Bollocks! If Raja hires the right people, and given a big budget, they can smoke both AMD and nVidia. Well...maybe, but definitely they will have a competent GPU.
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#8
R0H1T
Prima.Vera said:
Bollocks! If Raja hires the right people, and given a big budget, they can smoke both AMD and nVidia. Well...maybe, but definitely they will have a competent GPU.
It takes a number of years to go from Intel Iris whatever to what Polaris or Vega are capable of today & I don't see Intel matching Volta anytime before 2021, by then Nvidia would be way ahead in the graphics/gaming department. I can agree that the computing (strictly compute) landscape can change very rapidly, provided Intel have laid some groundwork for Raja to work on. If Intel is starting from scratch, in both cases ~ computing & gaming/high end graphics then it'll take them at the very least 2 years i.e. around 2020 to match AMD, Nvidia's current offerings.
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#9
INSTG8R
While I called this the other day I have to wonder why he doesn’t have some kinda non-compete clause in his contract.
Posted on Reply
#10
EarthDog
Yup, called it as well... though I guess AI... :)

It is quite typical to see a non-compete.. I am very surprised he didn't have one...

Turns out... its california... ;)
Posted on Reply
#11
nemesis.ie
2901BitSlice said:
Who says AMD is out of the GPU Game ? Vega and Navi are almost finished and there are plenty of other people at RTG capable of finishing the job.
Exactly, I'm quite sure folks like Mike Mantor can work away on their own initiative/or move into the vacant spot perhaps.
Posted on Reply
#12
iO
I guess a gaming card based on a completely new design in 4-5 years would be just a side product similar to Vega.
IF he even stays that long at Intel...
Posted on Reply
#13
Mirkoskji
I find it very strange too to see Raja, former head of RTG, become head of graphics departement in a potentially competing firm such Intel. Two possibilities. One being AMD doing what AMD always did, aka don't pay attention to strategic choices and leaving Raja free to do whatever he wants. or two, this is a big plan AMD and Intel were putting together, and raja is the key, becoming an intermediate figure to obtain a sort of new cooperation between the two, to gain faster results on the Intel graphics side of things and facilitate the transition...
Posted on Reply
#14
ironcerealbox
cucker tarlson said:
Is it Intel hires Raja or Intel acquires RTG ? Cause although I''m a layman I think all intellectual property rights do not tranfer to Intel only cause they hired Raja, neither what you develop for a company you're working for becomes yours when you quit.
Not sure if you were being sardonic with that question. If you were, I apologize for not getting your jest; however:

Working for a company, all IP belongs to the company. The same goes in the academic sector except you just get to have your name on the projects (usually research) in a clearer fashion than in small print or "thanks for so-and-so for their part". If the IP is created/made/whatever during the course of employment for an employer, it belongs to the employer. Else (being that IP is created/made/whatever other than in the course of employment), it is owned by the employee. That is the general rule-of-thumb.

You NEVER share your best ideas with your coworkers, bosses/supervisors, or project/research/academic mentors. Trust me, been there and done that. Some people are scum and I'll leave it at that. Sorry, I got semi-triggered.

Plus, it ain't going to stop one company from acquiring IP of another through corporate espionage, borderline sniping of employees from other companies, or just straight-up theft disguised in such a way as to hide the source of the IP to begin with (IP laundering, in-a-way; though, I have most likely used that term incorrectly from a legal sense).
Posted on Reply
#16
Diverge
Don't employee's that high up usually have clauses in their contracts that prevent them from joining a competitor?
Posted on Reply
#17
EarthDog
Diverge said:
Don't employee's that high up usually have clauses in their contracts that prevent them from joining a competitor?
Yes, but it is in California....

See post 38
Posted on Reply
#18
ironcerealbox
Diverge said:
Don't employee's that high up usually have clauses in their contracts that prevent them from joining a competitor?
Usually, no. Not for higher-ups. Those clauses are usually reserved for employment contracts at the entry and middle levels.
Posted on Reply
#19
ironcerealbox
EarthDog said:
Yes, but it is in California....

See post 38
Good point and point taken! :D
Posted on Reply
#20
EarthDog
ironcerealbox said:
Usually, no. Not for higher-ups. Those clauses are usually reserved for employment contracts at the entry and middle levels.
Not really... I have seen it at mid level (Ive signed them working for an East Coast Water Utility as a Data Center Manager/Operator) but more so in the suit level its more common... at least in IT.

(merge your double posts. ;))

EDIT: Or thank me, and leave your double posts... :p
Posted on Reply
#21
iO
The big question is how many engineers of RTG are going to follow him to Intel. Just a few missing key people could f**k up AMDs competitiveness even more...
Posted on Reply
#22
Steevo
AMD is going to have a field day with this if they use any of their parents or technology, and I'm sure it's just a race to that eventuality unless Intel is going to start paying royalties.
Posted on Reply
#23
trparky
Can someone tell me how AMD is even allowing this? I would have bet a good amount of money that AMD would have saddled him with a non-compete agreement when he left AMD but here he's going to Intel? Seriously, was AMD that stupid?
Posted on Reply
#25
dozenfury
trparky said:
Can someone tell me how AMD is even allowing this? I would have bet a good amount of money that AMD would have saddled him with a non-compete agreement when he left AMD but here he's going to Intel? Seriously, was AMD that stupid?
He had also been on leave to "find himself" (which turned out to be more about finding another job) for awhile. So I wonder if he had a 6 month non-compete agreement or something, and depending how the leave was taken he may have used that leave to get around it. Especially if the leave was unpaid they might just have backdated his termination date.
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