Future Nvidia GPUs Could Be Made by Intel

In the world of technology, some things seem more implausible than others. This is one of those implausibilities: Could your next Nvidia GPU come out of an Intel foundry? According to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, Nvidia is considering this.

Huang’s comments came in a Q&A yesterday (via Tom’s Hardware). The discussion about Intel’s foundry services led to surprising comments. “We are very open-minded about considering Intel and I am very pleased with the efforts they are making,” said Huang. If Intel’s process technology can offer a favorable combination of clock frequency and power consumption, why doesn’t Nvidia want to explore the option?

While Intel is set to compete directly with Nvidia in the GPU market, the discussions were confirmed by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. He said Reuters that Intel is “thrilled by your interest in using our foundry resources”. He said discussions with Nvidia were ongoing.

Ongoing global supply chain issues and an over-reliance on TSMC are leading to some interesting chip manufacturing dynamics. Competing foundries, including Intel and Samsung, are spending tens of billions of dollars to increase its manufacturing capabilities. All this future capability is definitely shaking things up. A few years ago, the chances of Intel making Nvidia chips would have been inconceivable, given the sometimes acrimonious relationship between the two companies.

The discussion moved to the topic of sharing valuable secrets with Intel, but Huang rejected this, saying that “we have been working closely with Intel, sharing our roadmap with them long before sharing it with the public, for years. Intel has known our secrets for years. AMD has known our secrets for years. We are sophisticated and mature enough to realize that we have to collaborate.”

Information sharing isn’t as surprising as it sounds. We see this with companies like Apple and Samsung, both of which make competing products. There are many industry standards and things like API development that require collaboration between companies, although not always at this level. If Intel manufactures Nvidia GPUs, it will necessarily be exposed to Nvidia’s closed IP. Intel is hard at work on its own line of GPUs and certainly wouldn’t mind taking a look under the hood at Nvidia’s future technology. Of course, there would be strict NDAs or Chinese walls to prevent mischief.

Jensen Huang notes that some of their most profitable HPC products use AMD and Intel CPUs and technology. So while you might find toxic forums or reddit comments and memes, the companies work together more than most people realize. That said, Intel’s manufacturing of Nvidia GPUs would still be one of the most unexpected developments in the PC space in recent years, should it ever happen.

What is the next? Will Intel make AMD CPUs? That might be a bridge too far.

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