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Intel Xe GPU: Intel’s graphics cards to leapfrog Nvidia and AMD with key feature

Intel will soon expand its reach into the graphics card market thanks to its upcoming Intel Xe graphics architecture, putting it toe-to-toe with Nvidia and AMD.

Intel Xe will feature a revolutionary scalable design, reportedly allowing it to work across desktop PC, laptops and even supercomputers. This would remove the need to create entirely separate graphics architecture for consumer and prosumer markets, which the likes of Nvidia currently do.

The first Intel Xe GPU to be shown off was a desktop graphics card called the DG1-SDV, which reportedly use a 10nm process, although not a lot of information has been confirmed beyond that.

Beyond the DG1, rumours (sourced from My Drivers) suggest Intel is planning on abandoning plans to use the 10nm process and will partner up with TSMC to create GPUs with a smaller 6nm process.

While such a move could potentially offer a performance boost over rivals, it also means we likely won’t see these graphics card until 2021 or 2022.

Read below for all the rumours we’ve seen regarding Intel’s Xe graphics.

Related: Best Graphics Cards 2020

Intel Xe GPU release date – When will Intel’s graphics card launch?

Intel is yet to announce a definitive release date for the Xe-based GPUs. However, a combination of the company’s marketing drive behind the DG1 card and a tweet last October by Intel exec Raj Koduri point towards a June 2020 release window.

The first iteration of Intel Xe is unlikely to be a dedicated graphics card though, with it becoming increasingly more likely we’ll first see it take the form of integrated graphics in Intel’s upcoming Tiger Lake mobile processors.

Tiger Lake chips are expected to start rolling out with various laptops from Summer 2020, which matches up with all the speculation. We’ll likely hear more during Computex 2020, which takes place on 2nd June this year.

There was also speculation we’d hear more news about Intel Xe during GDC, but with that event cancelled, it’s unknown at what point Intel will make further announcements.

Related: Intel Tiger Lake

Intel Xe GPU price – How much will Intel’s first dedicated GPU cost?

Intel’s Xe GPU price is entirely up in the air, especially considering the lineup will likely extend beyond just the recently revealed DG1 dedicated graphics card.

Reports suggest Intel’s Xe GPU will scale from integrated graphics in a laptop up to graphics cards explicitly built for supercomputers. In terms of the consider desktop graphics cards, it’s impossible to predict what price point Intel will aim for, but expect the cost to be competitive with AMD and Nvidia. 

Related: Nvidia Ampere

Intel Tiger Lake

Intel’s next-generation laptop processors could potentially feature Intel Xe graphics

Intel Xe GPU specs

We don’t yet know specific specs for Intel’s upcoming Xe GPUs. We do at least know that the lineup is divided into three separate microarchitectures – Xe-LP, Xe-HP and Xe-HPC.

The recently announced Intel DG1 card will feature the Xe-LP architecture. Xe-LP is the entry-level “Integrated” series which will be focused on 5W to 20W power consumption, while Xe-HP is expected to be the mid-ranger to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Nvidia and AMD. Lastly, there’s the Xe-HPC microarchitecture that’ll be non-consumer and aimed at server work. 

A leak from Digital Trends suggests one of the Intel Xe graphics cards will feature thermal design power of 500 watts, which higher than any other graphics card currently available. This will almost definitely be referring to a graphics card intended for data servers or workstations rather than consumer gaming desktops.

The leak also suggests Intel’s Xe GPUs will use ‘tile’ modules, differing to how AMD and Nvidia design their own graphics cards. This would allow the Xe GPU architecture to be scalable to function for various markets and performance requirements.

Digital Trends also suggests Intel Xe will use high bandwidth memory (HBM) instead of GDDR6 and will offer PCI-e 4 compatibility.

Related: Ray tracing explained

Intel Xe GPU performance

With so little information on the new 7nm range, it’s hard to declare what to expect from performance.

The best and most recent indicators have come from what Intel has said about the DG1 dedicated graphics card.

During the reveal, Intel said the DG1 would have “powerful media and display engines” while also being “designed for power optimised platforms” and “content creation and gaming.”

But due to the supposed scalability of Intel Xe GPU, performance will range greatly from powering laptops to supercomputers.

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