Intel appears increasingly set to challenge AMD and Nvidia's dominance of the discrete desktop graphics chip arena with an alternative to ATI Radeon and GeForce GPUs.
So claim various sources from different graphics card makers, all of whom say their companies have been approached by Intel, according to a DigiTimes report. The chip giant appears to be taking soundings ahead of a clarification of its plans in Q4, itself prepatory to an entry into the GPU business early in Q2 2008.
The moles maintain Intel is interested in targeting the mid-range market rather than the high-end, the latter a segment headed by Nvidia, now the closest GPU maker to Intel since AMD acquired ATI.
Intel has, of course, built a strong lead in the graphics market, thanks to its the chipsets it offers that incorporate graphics engines. The company has certainly shown an interest in expanding its graphics offerings, and there have been rumours before that it was planning to enter the discrete GPU market, though it's been hard to disentangle such claims from similar initiatives to create GPUs that can operate alongside a CPU to number-crunch scientific and engineering applications.
But if you're building a GPU core for that role, why not use it to tackle the desktop market too, particularly since Intel's lead here is being challenged by other vendors, by Nvidia in particular?
Intel's last discrete graphics chip was 1998's i740, a product of the chip giant's 1997 acquisition of Chips & Technologies. At the time the i740 was knocked on the head, in 1999, Intel had two other GPUs in the works: the i752 and the i754. The i754 was canned around the same time as the i740 because the i752 was considered to be more than sufficient for the task in hand. Intel may have sampled the i752, but so far as we know it never made it to market, being canned later in 1999.