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Could Intel use AMD Radeon graphics in its next processors?

Intel is rumoured to have finalised a deal to license AMDs graphics technology for use in its own chips next year.

The rumour comes from Chief Editor of computer gaming site HardOCP, Kyle Bennett, who posted in its forum: “The licensing deal between AMD and Intel is signed and done for putting AMD GPU tech into Intel’s iGPU.”

While there doesn’t seem to be any other evidence to back up the claim, as Forbes notes, Bennet has been in the PC business for decades and has “excellent contact with AMD, Nvidia, and Intel”.

According to Bennett, AMD’s GPU technology would be used as part of Intel’s integrated GPU (iGPU), but as several outlets have noted, the deal makes sense for other reasons.

Related: CES 2017

Firstly, it would give both companies an advantage over rival Nvidia, with Intel’s patent cross-licensing deal with Nvidia set to expire next year.

That means the company will be open to litigation if it doesn’t re-license its technology, so Intel will be looking for a new cross-licensing deal.

The firm doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of graphics patents of Nvidia or AMD, and so will need to infringe on those firm’s patents in order to build integrated graphics.

That was what led to the first deal with Nvidia, but it seems the company could, if Bennett is on the money here, be looking to switch to AMD for its next deal.

However, it could be that Intel will simply use Radeon graphics integrated into its chips, but as Forbes’ Kevin Krewell points out, this “would make Intel reliant on its biggest PC competitor for a key technology.

“…The only conditions that make this at all possible is that AMD created the Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) as a subsidiary, giving RTG more latitude in negotiating IP deals.”

TrustedReviews Computing Editor Michael Passingham said: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: this is extremely likely to be your average, run-of-the-mill licencing agreement.

“Tech IP licencing is ridiculously complicated and attempting to boil it down in this way is tough. The basis of the story, that Intel is licencing AMD technology, makes sense. Intel needs the patents in order to not infringe on the leaders in the GPU space and it’ll probably net the Radeon portion of AMD a nice bit of extra income.

“It’s no different to Samsung manufacturing the components for the iPhone: different parts of rival companies work together if the end result is beneficial. The AMD/Intel story is mostly interesting because the two are such bitter rivals, but ultimately this won’t really result in much extra cooperation between the two.

“Keep in mind that in order not to combust into a world of lawsuits, AMD and Intel already licence processor technology (such as elements of x86 x64) to one another. This is more of the same.”

At this point, it’s unclear whether any deal is indeed being negotiated, let alone finalised, so take the rumour with the usual pinch of salt.

If a deal has been made, we’d expect to hear more in the near future so stay tuned.

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Let us know what you think of the rumour in the comments.

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