Intel Kills Kaby Lake-G, Ending Its Unique AMD GPU Experiment

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Back in 2017, Intel launched a radical new product. Kaby Lake-G, which powered the company’s Hades Canyon line of NUCs (New Unit of Computing), combined a Kaby Lake CPU with an AMD GPU, using Intel’s then-new interconnect technology, EMIB. Intel and AMD do a certain amount of cooperating on GPU products — after all, AMD GPUs work perfectly when dropped into Intel motherboards — but they’d never cooperated at the level required to build a joint product before.

Intel has released a product change notification (PCN) update that cancels all of the Kaby Lake-G products and succinctly discusses why:

Market demand for the products listed in the “Products Affected/Intel Ordering Codes” table below have shifted to other Intel products. The products identified in this notification will be discontinued and unavailable for additional orders after the “Last Product Discontinuance Order Date” (see “Key Milestones” above).

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There was always a certain irony to the entire KL-G product family. For years, AMD fans have wanted the company to build a forward-looking APU that combined CPU, GPU, and HBM technology to create a true all-in-one solution. For years, AMD’s weak CPUs undercut any argument in favor of this kind of product. Even with Ryzen now well established in-market, AMD has given no sign that it intends to bring HBM to APUs in this space. From what we’ve heard in the past, the difficulty of adopting interposer technology at the price points APUs typically command has precluded the endeavor. It’s not clear if AMD’s shift to chiplets makes the idea of adopting HBM for APUs more difficult, but we do know that the company has stated that its Matisse design would not be used for an APU product. Thus, the closest thing to an AMD APU with HBM has been an Intel CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce with an on-die AMD GPU.

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Intel, of course, has good reason to be moving on from its AMD partnership. The stars may have briefly aligned for the two companies to make a deal on Hades Canyon, but the constellations have clearly moved out of conjunction since. In 2017, Intel’s own GPU efforts had stagnated. From Skylake to the launch of Ice Lake just a few months ago, Intel held its graphics constant — roughly four years. With Ice Lake serving as the initial debut for the architecture we’ll see with Xe, the company’s first discrete GPUs in nearly two decades, Intel is moving on to focus on its own architectures and hardware.

Hades Canyon would still outperform any Ice lake-equipped system — the integrated solution with HBM would still compete reasonably well with upper-entry-level to lower-midrange cards today. The GPU is a bit of a hybrid between Polaris and Vega with some of the features of each. Still, the writing is on the wall with Xe expected to launch in 2020, and we’re not surprised to see Intel ushering Kaby Lake-G to the door. The part never saw wide adoption, but it remains one of the more unique bits of hardware Intel ever launched.

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