It's been a whirlwind year in the PC market, in no small part thanks to the return of AMD. But things just got a whole lot more insane of late, with AMD and Intel - of all companies - announcing a partnership.
In an announcement on their website, Intel has confirmed that their 8th generation H-series mobile CPUs won't be using Intel's integrated Iris graphics solution anymore.
Instead - remarkably - they'll be using custom-built GPUs from AMD. Here's more from Intel:
The new product, which will be part of our 8th Gen Intel Core family, brings together our high-performing Intel Core H-series processor, second generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) and a custom-to-Intel third-party discrete graphics chip from AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group* – all in a single processor package.
It’s a prime example of hardware and software innovations intersecting to create something amazing that fills a unique market gap. Helping to deliver on our vision for this new class of product, we worked with the team at AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group. In close collaboration, we designed a new semi-custom graphics chip, which means this is also a great example of how we can compete and work together, ultimately delivering innovation that is good for consumers.
It's a huge announcement, in part due to the long, bitter history between AMD and Intel. The two companies have been competing tooth and nail for decades, and to see a partnership like this appear now - especially in a year when AMD has restored itself as a competitive brand with their Ryzen desktop CPUs - is nothing short of staggering.
But while AMD has a presence once more in the desktop space, the same can't be said for laptops. AMD's mobile Ryzen offering won't appear in Australia until next month, and ignoring the GPU element, it's a space that Intel completely and utterly dominates. It's even rarer to see an AMD GPU in a laptop, and it's here that the partnership makes a lot more sense.
It's been a good year for PC tech, and an especially good year for AMD's desktop CPUs. But while Ryzen has picked up plenty of steam, we're yet to see any competition from AMD in gaming laptops as of yet. Fortunately, they're coming.
The question is: how does this proposed announcement affect the upcoming Ryzen mobile laptops?
For now, it's not entirely sure. As far as Intel's concerned, the partnership lets them charge a premium for their H-series line by adding a feature that sets it apart from their U-series mobile offerings (which, as of the 8th generation, comes with 4 cores/8 threads as standard). A significant boost to gaming performance would be a perfect way to do that, which could offer a better price-to-performance alternative than buying laptops with discrete NVIDIA GPUs.
For AMD, it's a pretty straightforward move: NVIDIA GPUs have little competition in the laptop space. This partnership gets more AMD GPUs out there, although it remains to be seen how well AMD's custom-made effort will stack up to the advancements NVIDIA has made in mobile gaming.
It's certainly not the kind of news anyone would have expected at the start of the year. But regardless of how it came about, it's another dose of competition for consumers. Put another way: 2018 could be a real fun year to buy a gaming laptop.