Intel has been teasing us about a new brand of discrete gaming GPUs for a while, namely: Intel Xe. It's coming in several configurations and, at the top end of the stack, Xe-HPG is set to arrive as a high-performance, gaming optimised GPU. And maybe, with the sort of tech Intel's been dropping into its server GPUs, it'll be ready to take on current market leaders AMD and Nvidia.
We've seen a little of what the lower end of the line-up can do, with the wee Xe chip appearing in the latest Tiger Lake laptops, and Intel's chief GPU architect Raja Koduri has been drip feeding us high-end server graphics teasers for months. But now we've got a screenshot of the gaming-centric Intel Xe-HPG actually running on an as yet unreleased 3DMark test.
Xe HPG mesh shading in action, with the UL 3DMark Mesh Shader Feature test that is coming out soon pic.twitter.com/fnYeWoM08cFebruary 10, 2021
Koduri popped up on Twitter today, flaunting what appears to be the Intel XE DG2 model, based on Xe-HPG architecture. It's running on UL's upcoming 3DMark Mesh Shader feature test. Like Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shaders are part of the DirectX12 Ultimate API, and will be operative in the phasing out of current, fixed-function hardware approaches.
Input Assembler (IA), Vertex Shader (VS), Hull Shader (HS), Geometry Shader (GS) and Domain Shader (DS) are all on the way out. Where previously fixed-function hardware approaches were rife, Mesh Shaders are more of a generic solution to testing, a flexible all-rounder.
So, with the new gaming chip being benched right now, it might not be long before we see some actual numbers arising from the blue corner. And although we're unlikely to get these new high-end discrete GPUs for desktop PCs any time soon, it is possible portable variants will hit the market in the semi-near future.
You might soon spot gaming laptops baring Intel Xe stickers, potentially paired with 11th Gen Core Tiger Lake-H, perhaps even later this year.
Thus far, we've had very little info on what these new GPUs are capable of. We know the older DG1 prototype (based on Iris Xe architecture) was able to run Destiny 2, and the desktop GPU is going to be dropped into retail machines too. Though with less actual graphics silicon inside it the DG1 in your desktop PC isn't really prepped for gaming.
When packed into a Tiger Lake laptop, however, the Iris Xe GPU outperforms AMD's integrated graphics, but is still shy of getting close to the sort of gaming performance we'd expect from discrete AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.