And Then There Were Three: Intel Powers On First XE dGPU Based On 10nm Process

Usman Pirzada
A featured concept image of Intel Xe GPU. Image credits: Cristiano Siqueira (@CSiqueira97)

The number of graphics card manufacturers with a working dedicated GPU is officially three now as Intel powers on its XE graphics card. The XE GPU has been rumored to launch sometime in late 2020 and will make Intel part of the older graphics card duopoly (now a triopoly) which includes AMD and NVIDIA. The XE GPU that Intel has powered on its lab is based on Gen 12 graphics and will constitute a basic prototyping/testing platform for Intel.

Intel XE dGPU "DG1" Prototype Power On Completed - Its Alive!

Intel's CEO Bob Swan confirmed that Intel had powered on its first dedicated graphics card in this quarter's earnings report and this was something later confirmed by Graphics and Visual Technologies Marketing Chief Chris "Spooky" Hook as well as the exact name of the GPU in question. Intel has been quietly working on this major diversification of its core capabilities and had gone on a big hiring spree as well and as late 2020 approaches, the time for them to deliver draws closer.

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Chris also confirmed that the GPU prototype that was powered on was DG1, which likely stands for "development graphics".

The DG1 graphics card is essentially a set of training wheels for Intel to get used to the entire process of manufacturing and maintaining a dedicated graphics card before the ramp-up to bigger and badder stuff. Based on what we know so far the card prototype is going to have performance in the entry-level category since the focus here is to spot and fix issues and not slap on more cores (or EUs in Intel's case).

Chris has previously stated that the first availability of Intel's dedicated graphics cards is going to be from very late-2020 although he did not specify whether this was going to be an enterprise version or the consumer version of Xe. We are probably going to hear more about it in 2020 during Computex and other conferences like Hot Chips and maybe even get a paper launch or so (ahem ahem).

The codename iDG1LP has previously been leaked by Notebookcheck and consisted of a GPU with 25W of total power. Since Intel is planning to offer 2x performance increases on every increment, this card will likely have a power of roughly 1-2 TFLOPs. 'Arctic Sound' codename has been leaked before as well, which will be aimed directly at the data center market. Intel hasn't confirmed what process node they would utilize to develop the Xe GPUs, but rumors suggest they would either be based on 10nm or 7nm. Intel also unveiled their next-gen design concepts for the Xe GPU based discrete lineup at Computex 2019 which you can see here.

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