Intel's Rumored Graphics Chip a No-Show at Computex

One of the biggest rumors to come out of Computex this week is that Intel is developing a new high-end graphics processor, which it will begin sampling to graphics cards makers in Taiwan in the next year or two. Graphics card makers at the show said they've seen no signs of it, however.

The rumor follows reports of Intel hiring more graphics chip engineers, and speculation that Intel will have to answer Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD's) purchase of GPU maker ATI Technologies last year. AMD is developing a family of microprocessors with graphics built in, called Fusion. Some also speculate that Intel will need to buy a graphics processor company to bolster its expertise in GPUs.

Intel already makes graphics cores, but they are generally used in chipsets for PCs aimed at users who are not looking for high end graphics. In fact, Intel is the world's largest graphics chip maker, but it has never gone after the high-end segment of the business, which has long been dominated by Nvidia and ATI.

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The only major announcement Intel has made recently about graphics is building the function into a future multi-core chip code-named Larrabee. The chip, which will pack dozens of x86 microprocessors onto a single piece of silicon, is under development.

The company may eventually take a swing at the high-end GPU business, but several graphics card makers at Computex say they've seen no sign of such a move yet.

"There have been rumors of an Intel GPU for a long time. I haven't seen anything like it yet," said Andy Wu, project engineer in the multimedia division at Micro-Star International, one of Taiwan's largest graphics card makers.

"It would be big news if it were true, but it's not real," said Andrew Wei, graphics product manager at Foxconn Technology Group, another graphics card maker.

An engineer at Asustek Computer, Taiwan's largest motherboard maker and a major graphics card developer, also denied the existence of an Intel GPU or any hearsay that one might be coming anytime soon.

Grace Wang, regional marketing manager for Intel's Asia Pacific platform component group, said Larrabee is the only major graphics project Intel has announced recently, and declined to comment on any other product plans.

Intel held 38.7 percent of the graphics chip market at the end of the first quarter, followed by Nvidia with 28.5 percent and AMD with 21.9 percent, according to Jon Peddie Research.

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