Intel has launched its Iris Xe Max graphics chip with three laptop makers as customers. Acer, Asus, and Dell have signed on to launch thin-and-light laptops with Intel’s first stand-alone graphics chip.
The stand-alone graphics chip uses the same microarchitecture as the Intel Iris Xe graphics, or the integrated graphics in Intel’s 11th Gen Intel Core mobile processors. But this one is more powerful, with 96 execution units, a frequency of1.35GHz, and built-in encoding capability. The latter is good for the target market of content creators because it helps them process videos faster, said Darren McPhee, director of product marketing, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’re targeting this solution at mainstream thin light notebooks, and specifically the mobile creator,” said McPhee. “It’s going to be a long-term strategic play with this first wave of the product. We’re focusing on how can we enhance the creator capabilities in this space.”
The chip has been under design for a few years, and it’s a big bet by Intel to expand beyond the CPU market.
The new discrete graphic processing unit (GPU) will position Intel better in its competition with the two other stand-alone graphics chip makers, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices. The three customers will are using the Intel graphics chips in their new thin-and-light laptops that are debuting today. Intel says this is just the beginning of a strategic push into the graphics chip market coming in 2021.
Above: Intel Iris Xe Max graphics capability.
The Iris Xe Max features Intel Deep Link technology, which helps Intel’s central processing units (CPUs) work well with its GPUs, using a common software framework to boost performance for things like video encoding. Intel said that its GPU can do Hyper Encode for up to 1.78 times faster encoding than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card for desktops. The 2080 consumes more power than the Intel graphics solution, but it’s not a great comparison for the current market. The 2080 is being replaced by Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs now, but Intel said it wasn’t able to test against 3080s.
Available starting today, Intel Iris Xe MAX graphics are available for the Acer Swift 3x, Asus VivoBook Flip TP470, and Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 laptops. These are the first devices to leverage 11th Gen Intel Core mobile processors, Intel Iris Xe MAX graphics, and Intel Deep Link technology.
Above: Intel’s graphics chip vs. Nvidia’s laptop graphics chip.
Intel said the combined tech can run AI-based creation software seven times faster than similar laptops configured with third-party graphics.
As for games, Intel said the Iris Xe Max graphics also deliver 1080p graphics in a wide variety of popular games. Intel said that its GPUs can outperform games on laptops that use Nvidia MX350 notebook GPUs. Those GPUs consume about the same amount of power as the Intel GPUs, while the 3000 series Nvidia GPUs consume a lot more.
Intel is offering promotions that bundle creator applications and games, starting on November 3.
After Intel expands the rollout of the GPUs in early 2021, Intel will also launch its DG2 graphics chips, which are targeted at desktop graphics performance. Intel hasn’t said when those chips will debut, or the performance levels. But Intel said it will bring Xe discrete graphics to value desktops in the first half of 2021. It believes the Xe graphics architecture will scale from the low end to the high-end graphics markets, from gaming to datacenter graphics.
Intel’s 11th Gen Intel Core S-Series desktop processors, code-named Rocket Lake, will debut in 2021.
“I’d say they are making solid progress. It’s not going to beat an Nvidia RTX 2060 on game performance, but they have a good solution for thin and light productivity notebooks,” said Kevin Krewell, an analyst at Tirias Research, in an email to GamesBeat. “It’s a better solution for creative workers that want the discrete GPU. I like the unified software stack with dynamic power-sharing. The Deep Link ability to have both integrated and discrete Iris Xe graphics working together for video and deep learning tasks is a plus. I’d say it’s a decent start, but it’s not for gaming laptops.”
Beyond the Iris Xe Max, Intel is working on its Xe HPG high-performance graphics chips, which consume more power and can run high-powered desktops.
The chip is made with Intel’s 10-nanometer Super Fin manufacturing technology.
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