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FOLLOW UP: For further information regarding Intel’s graphics plans till 2010 read our news-story “Intel Details Graphics Processor Market Approach”.

Intel Corp., the world’s leading producer of x86 microprocessor and built-in graphics cores, may enter the market of discrete graphics processing units (GPUs) in about two years from now, a rumour published by an Asian web-site claims. This puts AMD and Nvidia into a pretty comfortable duopoly in the coming years, but the question is what happens next.

It is official that Intel is working on standalone graphics chips and it seems to be logical that they company plans to enter this market about two and a half years after the rumours of its plans to re-enter the business first emerged as quite some engineers from the former 3Dlabs flee from the company to join Intel.

So far the details about Intel’s standalone graphics solutions are vague to say at least, as the developers at this point probably work on the desired capabilities and supporting technologies rather than on particular implementation. Though, VR-Zone web-site claims that rumours imply on the multi-core nature of the product and 32nm process technology (which is expected to go online in 2009).

Multi-core graphics solutions is not something particularly new: back in the days Voodoo 3D graphics accelerators from 3dfx Interactive consisted of several chips; ATI’s Xenos processor consists of two chips, one of which is an eDRAM buffer with MSAA capability; while Nvidia’s latest GeForce 8800 has its output components located inside supporting NV IO chip, formally making the design as dual-chip one.

Even though the market of standalone graphics cards is doomed by game consoles, popularization of notebooks and integrated chipsets, its revenues are still about $5 billion a quarter, which is more than a significant amount of money even for Intel. Moreover, more advanced graphics technologies may allow Intel to sell its chips to makers of game consoles eventually, which are sold in quantities that may reach hundreds of millions. Additionally, graphics chips may be used for general purpose computing tasks.

Intel’s public relations representatives did not comment on the news-story.

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