Intel could be coming for Nvidia with a monster 500W graphics card

Intel's DG1 graphics card (Image credit: Intel)

We already have a good idea of what Intel Xe will look like with the DG1 graphics card. We even played Destiny 2 on the Intel Xe DG1 back at CES 2020. But we might have just seen what a more powerful Intel flagship graphics card will look like.

The folks over at Digital Trends spotted leaked documents from a presentation made in early 2019, so it's possible Intel's plans and certain details have changed. But what was shown includes a series of different graphics cards made with individual tiles that are combined using Intel's Foveros chip-stacking technology.

A chart shows seven different graphics cards: four listed as SVD (software development vehicle) and three listed as RVP (reference validation platform). We know that the Intel Xe DG1 shown at CES 2020 was a SVD version, and would line up with one of the cards listed in the chart. But, there are also cards that feature two- and four-tile designs. 

The one-tile cards have TDPs (thermal design power) ranging from 75 to 150 watts, but things take a hot turn when these cards jump up to two and four tiles. The two-tile cards have 300W TDPs, which immediately put them at a higher power draw than even an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The four-tile cards jump up to a TDP of either 400W or 500W, far beyond what Nvidia and AMD require for their desktop graphics cards.

How that translates to power

While it's clear these graphics cards are power hungry, it's not clear just how powerful they'll actually be.

Digital Trends speculates that each tile on the graphics card would contain 128 execution units (EUs), giving Intel's four-tile model a total of 512 EUs. 

If we consider that the Intel Xe DG1 seen at CES 2020 was likely a lower-power, single-tile graphics card, then a four-tile card could conceivably have four times the performance. The DG1 managed framerates in the 40-50 ballpark at 1080p with low settings in Destiny 2 according to some sly benchmarking by Steve from Gamers Nexus. Quadrupling the performance could then deliver an acceptable if not mind-blowing 4K experience, or perhaps much smoother 1080p or 1440p gaming.

If that's the case, though, the 500W TDP will feel out of place, since you can get excellent 1080p, 1440p, and even 4K gameplay out of much less power-hungry cards. This leaves a big question: what are these cards going to be good for?

Because it's so likely that these four-tile graphics cards are meant for development rather than retail products for everyday consumers, it's unlikely we'll ever get a clear picture of what they're capable of. At the end of the day we land in the same spot we've been in - we're going to have to wait until Intel has more to share with us. With GDC and GTC coming up in the next couple months, we could end up hearing more in the near future - and if not, there's always Computex.

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.