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Intel Takes First Step in Discrete GPUs

November 24, 2020

Author: Aakash Jani

As the code-name implies, the DG1 is Intel’s first discrete-graphics product—in two decades, at least. It will debut with Tiger Lake processors in select Acer, Asus, and Dell laptops by the end of this quarter. Officially called the Intel Xe Max, the graphics card operates in a 25W power envelope thanks in part to the company’s 10nm SuperFin technology.

Rather than taking on much more powerful (and power-hungry) GPU cards, the new DG1 provides a modest graphics upgrade in laptop PCs. In this segment, it competes against Nvidia’s MX350 discrete GPU; AMD lacks a low-power GPU offering. Both of these small products can serve photo editors, video editors, and lightweight games in power-efficient laptops, where they are seeding a relatively new market for discrete-graphics cards.

The DG1 reuses the integrated GPU design from Intel’s Tiger Lake processor. Both chips implement what the company calls the Xe-LP architecture, a low-power variant of the Xe family. The only change is that the discrete GPU operates at a peak frequency of 1.65GHz, 22% faster than the top-end Tiger Lake product, to yield a maximum FP32 throughput of 2.46Tflop/s. Although Tiger Lake’s TDP is 28W, its GPU must share that thermal budget with the CPU subsystem, limiting its clock speed. The DG1, however, can devote its entire 25W TDP to the GPU, allowing it to reach greater speeds.

Leading Intel’s graphics business is Raja Koduri, previously the general manager and chief architect for AMD GPUs. The DG1 is the company’s first discrete GPU to enter the market, signaling a new direction. Gamers have considered Intel’s integrated graphics unworthy, so all eyes are on Koduri to see whether he can change the perception.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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