Intel's Xe GPU has been keeping a mostly low profile as far as performance targets go but Raja Koduri just blew the lid off an upcoming 'high performance' Xe GPU, stating that the team designing it calls it the 'father of all' silicon. He further adds that this is among the largest silicon ever designed in the world which, depending on whether or not he counts the Wafer Scale Engine as competition, would give us a very good ballpark figure for the size of the GPU. Oh and we can safely state that the Intel Xe hype train has officially checked into the station.
Raja Koduri: Intel Xe HP GPU among the largest silicon ever designed
Raja Koduri is the chief architect over at Intel and he recently visited the engineering team in Bangalore, India and tweeted about it. In an attempt to probably not generate too much hype (or maybe generate hype just the right way), he tweeted that the team calls the Xe GPU they just designed "the baap of all" (translated to "father of all"). Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Raja, I am fluent in Urdu/Hindi and this is why you are reading this story right now.
Before we go any further, here is the original tweet:
It’s all Xe HP - the team here in @intel Bangalore celebrated crossing a significant milestone on a journey to what would easily be the largest silicon designed in india and amongst the largest anywhere. The team calls it “the baap of all” ? @IntelIndia pic.twitter.com/scBrFFmhtl
— Raja Koduri (@Rajaontheedge) December 5, 2019
The first thing I would like to point out is that Raja specifically refers to this GPU as Xe HP instead of just Xe. This is because the early variants of Xe are not going to be as powerful and this is the HP or High Performance variant. Intel has (as of yet) been going with super simple nomenclature (like DG1 or Discrete Graphics 1) and this fits right in. It is unclear whether this design is related to the recently revealed Ponte Vecchio GPU in any way but regardless of that - it gives us a definitive answer to: will Intel ever design high performance GPUs.
Considering it usually takes 2 years for the design to end up on shelves (at a bare minimum) , it is unlikely we are going to be seeing this GPU before 2021. In fact, this also means that this GPU is going to be based on either 10nm or 7nm and could be impacted by delays in volume ramps for either node. Now notice Raja says this is the largest silicon ever designed in India and among the largest in the world. Since they are talking about Xe, this is a GPU.
As far as the size goes, I am going to assume that Raja Koduri does not consider the Wafer Scale Engine as competition which means we are looking at a maximum reticle limit of roughly 800mm². A die size of 750-800mm² would make this one of the largest GPUs ever designed and would make for an incredibly powerful processor. We can actually make a rough estimate for performance but that is an article for another time. All that I would like to say here is that this shows Intel's GPU efforts are still alive and looking at least 2-3 years into the future. While we do not expect the first or even the second generation of Xe GPUs to impress, we do expect Intel to have some seriously competitive products by 2021.