Intel could help end the GPU shortage by making chips for Nvidia, but will it?

Intel could help end the GPU shortage by making chips for Nvidia, but will it?

Before Intel becomes a rival to Nvidia in the discrete GPU space, it could become an ally.


Intel could help end the GPU shortage by making chips for Nvidia, but will it? - image1
(Image credit: Intel)

You ᴋɴᴏᴡ tʜᴇ graphics ᴄᴀʀd sɪᴛuᴀᴛiᴏɴ ɪs dire wʜᴇn a compᴀɴy ᴛᴀᴋᴇs ᴛᴏ relaunchɪɴg tʜᴇ GeFᴏʀce GT 730, ᴀs MSI hᴀs ᴅᴏne, ᴛᴏ cᴏɴtᴇɴᴅ wɪᴛh tʜᴇ shᴏʀtᴀɢᴇ. Tʜᴇ GT 730 ꜰɪʀsᴛ deʙᴜᴛed sᴇᴠᴇɴ yᴇᴀʀs ᴀɢᴏ, alᴍᴏsᴛ ᴀɴ eternɪᴛy ɪɴ tech yᴇᴀʀs. It's ɴᴏt tʜᴇ ꜰɪɴᴀʟ ᴀɴsᴡᴇr ᴛᴏ sᴏlvɪɴg tʜᴇ GPU shᴏʀtᴀɢᴇ, ʙᴜᴛ ᴏɴe poᴛᴇɴtial sᴏlutiᴏɴ, ɪɴteʀᴇsᴛɪɴgly ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ, ɪs ꜰᴏʀ Nvidia ᴛᴏ sᴏᴜʀce chips ꜰʀᴏᴍ Intel.

Whether that ends up happening or not remains to be seen, but Tom from the YouTube channel Moore's Law Is Dead claims to "confirm" Nvidia is "talking to Intel about fabs."

"I think people need to understand that Nvidia, Intel, they're not just gonna roll over and let TMSC combine with AMD and crush everyone, or TSMC combine with Apple and crush everyone. Nvidia isn't gonna roll over," Tom said. If TSMC starts dominating too hard, they're going to see what they can do to team up with Intel, and vice versa."

Tom notes that all the big players involved are "are preparing for major wars with [upcoming chip] architectures, and finding allies if one of them gets too powerful."

He mentions TSMC because it is the largest supplier of chips to companies like AMD, Apple, and Nvidia. There is only so much capacity to go around, however, and both AMD and Nvidia are selling graphics cards just as quickly as it can source chips for them.

There are different reasons for this. Cryptocurrency mining is one of them, and so is a global shortage of silicon, which is where Intel could provide some relief. However, just having talks with Intel is very different than actually coming to an agreement.

Every chip manufacturer always keeps multiple fabs on the ready as alternatives if/when issues/delays arise somewhere else. Having Intel as an alternative is at the very least a minimum exercise for anyone that needs serious chip supply.June 10, 2021

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In a Twitter thread on the topic, Dr. Ian Cutress from our sister site Anandtech notes that everyone is likely talking to Intel, given the current landscape. This was reiterated by Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

"Every chip manufacturer always keeps multiple fabs on the ready as alternatives if/when issues/delays arise somewhere else. Having Intel as an alternative is at the very least a minimum exercise for anyone that needs serious chip supply," Sag stated.

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So if Tom's information is correct, it could be nothing more than Nvidia doing its due diligence. From the outside looking in, there is just no way of knowing one way or the other.

The interesting wrinkle to all this is that Intel will be launching its own discrete GPU line for gaming later this year. It's an effort being led by Raja Koduri, who prior to landing at Intel was the graphics boss at AMD's Radeon division. Rumor has it Intel's top Xe-HPG graphics chip could offer performance comparable to a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which would be impressive.

Such a part would surely be in high demand (presuming Intel doesn't fumble on the driver/software side). Even if it doesn't reach that level of performance, it could still ending up being a high-demand product, hence the GT 730 making a depressing comeback.

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