Intel has stopped dancing around the issue and confirmed in a tweet, as noted by Engadget, that it will be making discrete GPUs and that they will be here by 2020.
Intel's joint CPU/GPU built in collaboration with rival AMD. Image: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
This means the company known for making the most popular computer processors available will now be competing with AMD and graphics giant Nvidia, in the discrete space. Intel isn't exactly a stranger to GPUs. Because the majority of Intel's CPUs have integrated graphics it, technically, has more GPUs in the wild than either Nvidia or AMD.
But those companies are known for their GPUs that can render 3D objects and big video files with aplomb. If you want to game, or work with CAD files, or even just make a nice big 4K video, then you want to invest in a discrete card from Nvidia or AMD, not use the built-in graphics provided by Intel.
Which is why Intel's been eyeing the discrete GPU waters and trying to figure out when's best to jump in. We've known that for a while, even if Intel itself has been mum on the details.
First there was the major hiring of Raja Koduri back in November 2017. Koduri came to Intel from AMD and was hired explicitly to start making better graphics for Intel.
But he wasn't the only hire. Intel also snapped up Koduri's former AMD colleague, Jim Keller, back in April.
Keller, we've presumed, was hired to deal with Intel's CPUs, the development of which has stagnated over the last few years. But Keller did major work at AMD creating AMD's silicon substrate, Infinity Fabric. This substrate has allowed AMD CPUs to scale to massive 32-core processors, and it's also allowed AMD to better integrate its CPUs and GPUs - which resulted in the wicked fast Ryzen 5 2400G back in February.
He knows how to make CPUs and GPUs talk to each other, which is something Intel's been experimenting with too, as evidenced by the G-Series Intel processors launched in March. Those processors were an Intel CPU and an AMD GPU crammed onto the same chip. So maybe Keller isn't fixing Intel's CPUs, but helping to develop its GPUs and the way they integrate with the CPUs.
Unfortunately we don't know. All we do know, from Intel's brief tweet, is that Koduri and company are working to deliver high-end discrete graphics cards from Intel by the year 2020. With three major GPU makers in 2020, it could mean the year of very cheap GPUs and PC gaming.