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Intel Splits Graphics Group, Raja Koduri Returns to Chief Architect Position

Intel divides its GPUs for gaming and data centers into two groups.

Intel announced today that it will split its AXG graphics group into two separate business units to address the gaming and data center markets separately. Raja Koduri, the current Executive Vice President of the AXG business unit, will return to his former position as Intel’s Chief Architect:

“For Intel, discrete graphics and accelerated computing are crucial growth engines. Our flagship products are now in production, and we are modifying our organizational structure to accelerate and scale their impact and drive go-to-market strategies with a unified voice to customers. This includes the integration of our consumer graphics teams into our client computing group and our accelerated computing teams into our data center and AI group. In addition, Raja Koduri will return to his position as Intel’s chief architect to focus on the company’s expanding efforts in CPU, GPU, and AI, as well as the acceleration of high-priority technical programs.

Intel has assured us that it will launch the second-generation Battlemage and third-generation Celestial discrete GPUs as scheduled. These GPUs will be supported alongside the recently introduced Alchemist series.

Intel’s Raja Koduri led AXG and will now return to his prior position as Intel’s chief architect. Koduri will work on high-performance technical programs to drive the integration of GPU, CPU, and AI architectures, a crucial initiative in light of products such as Falcon Shores and Intel’s Zettascale goals.

Koduri assumed his current position as leader of AXG last year, but the new position sounds similar to the one he held when he joined Intel in 2017 following a five-year stint at AMD (and a short hiatus). Yesterday, Koduri announced on Twitter that he is recuperating from an unscheduled back surgery in India and will remain there for a month before returning to work.

The consumer-centric portion of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit will now report to Intel’s Client Compute Group (CCG). The CCG is responsible for developing consumer computing platforms based on the CPU products of Intel. Lisa Pearce, who is best known for her leadership of the GPU teams’ software and driver divisions, will lead the AXG division that falls under CCG. Pearce will report to the current CCG leader, Michelle Johnston Holthaus.

Data centers and supercomputing GPUs, such as Ponte Vecchio and Rialto Bridge, will be managed by the Data Center and AI (DCAI) business unit. The GPU SoC and IP design teams will also be a part of DCAI, but they will continue to support the client graphics team. As Intel searches for a permanent leader, Jeff McVeigh, currently the vice president and general manager of the Super Compute Group, will serve as the interim leader of this AXG team. McVeigh will report to Sandra Rivera, the current director of DCAI.

Intel reorganized its financial reporting into six business units in the first quarter of this year. AXG will continue to report its revenue as one of the six Intel business units on the upcoming January earnings call, despite the organizational changes.

This reorganization of the GPU group will raise concerns that Intel intends to discontinue its consumer gaming GPU business. The bar for a new GPU manufacturer is high; Intel is the first new discrete GPU player in 25 years, and it’s no secret that the Arc gaming GPUs were released later than anticipated, so they face a tough competitive environment in which they are unable to compete with Nvidia and AMD’s products. This disparity has been largely attributed to sluggish launch-day drivers, but this has improved in recent months. The market conditions are also unfavorable due to an oversupply of GPUs, which follows several years of crypto-driven shortages.

All of these factors have contributed to the recent wave of rumors that Intel will eliminate its consumer GPU division. However, the company maintains its commitment to its current and future lineup of gaming graphics cards. In addition, Pat Gelsinger has recently expressed a long-term desire to develop GPUs, stating, “When I left Intel 12 years ago, this was the only major unfinished project on my list. During his announcement of the launch of the company’s Arc gaming GPUs, he stated, “I’m back, and we’re going to get it done.”

Intel states that its consumer GPU teams are now fully engaged in completing and releasing Battlemage. Considering the delays with Alchemist, Arc B-series (Battlemage) could be released as early as 2023.

Intel’s Tom Petersen has refrained from providing specific release information, stating that the company “learned its lesson” from the initial Arc rollout. While the launch of the Arc A770, A750, and A380 was rocky, things have improved, but at best, they still compete with products that were introduced two years ago. Intel’s consumer GPU division may not be able to justify continued investment if it does not reach an inflection point shortly, as there is widespread speculation that Battlemage could be the division’s defining moment.

Despite the apparent uncertainty surrounding Intel’s gaming GPU business, the company’s data center and HPC-geared GPUs will continue to be a key strategic asset for addressing the AI market. The data center is a land of high profits, and supercomputers have favored GPUs over CPUs for a while. Therefore, Intel requires a competitive data center GPU solution to compete with Nvidia and AMD, as well as the IP necessary to power future architectures such as Falcon Shores.

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