Intel Xe: everything you need to know about Intel's dedicated GPUs

Intel Xe: everything you need to know about Intel's dedicated GPUs

Intel is back in the great game of dedicated graphics cards, with the blue team suggesting that they launch their first Intel Xe graphics solutions in 2020 through a wide selection of platforms, environments and prices. This is Intel's first new discrete graphics card in more than twenty years.

The technology behind this GPU and its potential performance remain shrouded in mystery, but as time goes by, the details come to light. If it proves to be a viable alternative to Nvidia and AMD, this is one of the most important events in the graphics card industry in this century.

This is what we know so far.

Prices and availability

intel xe

Intel has stated that we can expect a debut in the summer of 2020 and that it pointed to a wide selection of graphic options, some aimed at consumer electronics and others for high performance. Intel revealed the first of its business-focused GPUs in November 2019. Intel has said that the Ponte Vecchio GPU will not launch until 2021, as it will be based on a second generation of Xe graphics. WCCFTech reported that it will first be used on the Aurora Supercomputer.

In mid-2019, Intel executive Raja Koduri tweets a photo of his Tesla, with the name "ThinkXE" on the board and with a label showing the month of June and 2020. This could be an early announcement of a launch in June 2020 for the Xe graphics card, perhaps in time for Computex.

In December 2019, however, rumors began to circulate that the development of Xe graphics was not progressing fast enough. A user of the Chiphell forums (via WCCFTech) stated that the development of Xe graphics did not work well and that we may not see any Intel GPU before the end of 2020. They also claimed that this will delay Ponte Vecchio in 2022 as soon.

If true, this will be problematic for a number of reasons, because the Xe graphics are scheduled to appear on the next Intel Tiger Lake processors, currently scheduled for a 2020 version. This is likely to be a priority for Intel, for which could cause a shortage of dedicated GPUs if they are launched at a similar time.

There is also the rumor that Intel will be the only company that sells its GPUs at launch, as it has had trouble defining new relationships with card partners that include them to create custom variants and with overclock.

A leak of information on the release of Intel video drivers in the summer of 2019 referred to four different discrete graphics cards. That suggests that for the ‘gamers‘And the fans of‘hardware‘, There will be a relatively wide selection of graphics cards to choose from.

Architecture and performance

intel xe video card

When Intel made its official announcement about the new graphics card technology it was developing, the company made it clear that it was building a dedicated graphics card. While that suggests that he was building something other than his existing built-in GPUs, these cards will be based on the same generation 12 architecture at the core of their integrated graphics solutions for the next processor generations like Tiger Lake, but properly scaled.

Intel previously announced that there will be three different microarchitectures as part of the Xe range, known as Xe-LP, Xe-HP and Xe-HPC. These will cover basic level graphics chips, enthusiast level graphics cards and GPUs based on data centers for rendering and supercomputing. However, in each case, Intel take advantage of the “Xe” brand for all future graphics projects, whether integrated or discrete, although there will be large performance differences between them.

The best view of the architecture behind these new cards came in our own report on a slide obtained from Intel that indicated the TDP (Power of thermal design, for its acronym in English), and the architecture "in mosaic" of these first cards Xe.

intel xe data graph

According to an internal presentation of Intel from the beginning of 2019, these execution units (UE) are divided into “mosaics”, potentially similar to the chiplets we have seen used in AMD Ryzen 3000 Zen 2 processors. When aligned with a leak of information from some controllers in July 2019, it was deduced that these mosaics probably contain 128 UEs and could be combined with the Intel Embedded Multiple Die Interconnection Bridge (EMIB).

In another part of the presentation, Intel claimed to be developing graphics cards across the price and performance spectrum, until the end. Designs ranging from a TDP of 75W to 500W are included. At the top end, that's twice the TDP of the most powerful gaming graphics card in Nvidia, the 2080 Ti. With the previous load confirming that the GPU use an input voltage of 48V, that makes it almost certainly a high-performance card.

It is possible that this 500W, four-tile card is the Ponte Vecchio GPU that Intel announced in November 2019. Although Ponte Vecchio did not debut until 2021, Intel called it the “first GPU exascale” and declared that it would use a Compute eXpress Link interface ( CXL) that runs on a PCIexpress 5.0 connection.