Make no mistake folks, Intel is serious about competing in the discrete graphics space starting in 2020, which is when the company anticipates launching its first discrete GPU solution. Whether Intel kicks things off with a professional graphics card or a consumer oriented one remains to be seen. Either way, Intel wants to get this right, and it's been actively engaging with the online community to make sure it's headed in the direction users want it to go. More than a marketing stunt, Intel was seen taking the feedback it solicited from a recent AYA (Ask YOU Anything) session on Reddit and sharing it with the company's GPU engineers.
These are exciting times we live in. If you've been out of the loop for a bit, here's what is happening: Intel assembled an all-star graphics team led by Raja Koduri, a veteran in the graphics industry and the former head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, where he was instrumental in the development of Vega.
Intel's plan is to "aggressively expand" its computing and graphics capabilities, and yes, that includes discrete GPU solutions for gaming. Beyond that, however, Intel has been fairly short on details, though it is starting to open up. We may have a played a small role in that.
A little over two weeks ago, we interviewed Intel on its graphics strategy, and forwarded questions we had solicited from the community. Intel then turned around and held an AYA (Ask YOU Anything) session on Reddit, the purpose of which was to gather additional input from the community on what users are expecting from Intel and what directions they would like to see the company take.
An AYA is essentially the opposite of an AMD (Ask Me Anything). Instead of Intel answering questions the company would be the ones asking the questions of the community and their subscriber base on Reddit had the opportunity to answer. With multiple Intel Engineering leaders participating, asking, and engaging with the Redditors with follow-up questions—a true dialog could start.
As soon as the AYA announcement post hit, however, the Intel team was quickly reminded of the skepticism and distaste for marketing and self-promotion on Reddit. There was skepticism internally as well, as we're told an Intel employee was one of the first to express a concern that there would not be any Intel engineers at the AYA; and that it would purely ne a marketing/PR stunt. This made the Intel team double down and ensure the top engineering leads of the Visual Technologies Team asked the questions and engaged in dialog with the community during the AYA.
Chris Hook Director Of Discrete Graphics and Visual Technologies Marketing, Intel shows
GPU Engineering team members data from reddit AYA
It was the first-ever AYA session on Reddit, and the information gathered is purportedly being put to good use. That's the hope, anyway. Not just by us and the community, but also Hook—he presented Intel's engineering team with a roll-up of the data on direct community feedback for what users want from graphics. These are the people who will actually be building Intel's first discrete GPU.
Seeing Hook in front of the engineering team with a slide of user feedback data represents a fairly major departure for Intel, and a welcome one. Intel has listened to market needs and dynamics before, of course, but community was never the company's strength—that has always been more of AMD's forte.
There are some big names involved in the community outreach too, people like Ari Rauch (VP of the Core And Visual Computing Group and GM of the Visual Technologies Team), Lisa Pearce (VP for graphics IP and head of the driver teams), Dan Wood (VP of graphics IP planning and discrete GPU management), Joseph Facca (senior director of discrete graphics hardware system engineering), Fred Steinberg (senior director of 3D, media, and display hardware IP), and Zachary Hamm (senior director of discrete director of media and display strategy and planning), to name a few.
So, what did Intel learn? The topic that came up most about Intel's graphics plans was about GPU preference. After that, the second biggest topic was related to Linux, followed closely about branding/naming.
Interestingly, the most popular non-Intel response was "No proprietary blobs." Intel has already stated a strong preference for open standards, and plans to support Adaptive Sync technology like AMD does with FreeSync (Sunny Cove will be FreeSync compatible too), rather than introduce its own propriety version, as NVIDIA did with G-Sync.
The takeaway here is that Intel is listening to the community and seemingly using the feedback it receives to guide (at least to some extent) its future design efforts and graphics feature set. This a side of Intel that we like to see, and hopefully it translates into some compelling and competitive discrete graphics products.