SAN JOSE, Calif. – Intel will go head-to-head with Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia in graphics processors, and it hired AMD’s former graphics chief to do it. Raj Koduri will become chief architect of a new core and visual computing group and lead a new initiative in edge computing at Intel.

The news comes two days after Intel and AMD announced a landmark collaboration to create a product that will put an Intel x86 in the same package as an AMD GPU.

Analysts said the move makes sense for Intel at a time when GPUs are booming for everything from machine-learning accelerators to self-driving cars. “We believe the growing/broadening market for GPUs offers a CPU-complimentary market that Intel should be well positioned to address, said Ross Seymore, a financial analyst at Deutsche Bank.

Nevertheless, Intel faces a long road from the graphics blocks it currently puts on its PC processors to a full portfolio from high-end discrete to embedded GPU parts. Intel tried and failed to enter the discrete graphics market twice, most recently with its Larrabee architecture, scrapped in 2009.

The new Intel group has a broad mission to serve “computing, graphics, media, imaging and machine intelligence capabilities for the client and data center segments, artificial intelligence, and emerging opportunities like edge computing,” the company said in a Web post. Just how the new unit will work with a machine-learning group created a year ago with the acquisitions of Movidius and Nervana remains to be seen.

Koduri’s return to AMD in 2013 was seen as an example of the company’s comeback. In between two stints leading graphics at AMD, he was a director of graphics architecture at Apple, working on the Macintosh.

Intel gave no details on the status of the new group such as what new products to expect when. “We have exciting plans to aggressively expand our computing and graphics capabilities,” said Murthy Renduchintala, Intel’s chief engineering officer and president of its client and Internet of things businesses and system architecture group.

— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times Circle me on Google+

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