Intel’s high-end gaming GPU possibly spotted in testing, hinting at a 2021 debut

Intel logo
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We might have caught a glimpse of Intel’s high-end graphics card aimed at gamers (known as DG2) in a tweet made by Raja Koduri, who is chief architect (and senior VP) of the graphics division at the firm.

Koduri posted a photo of a test lab at Intel’s Folsom campus (in California), showing a prototype GPU (hooked up to a CPU-style cooler and heatsink) being put through its paces in 3DMark – and this could be DG2 (with the emphasis on could).

Intel possibly testing Xe-HPG

(Image credit: Raja Koduri / Intel)

The tweet also shows a pic of the same lab back in 2012, when pre-production Crystalwell hardware was being tested by Koduri, who was with Apple at the time (he moved to head AMD’s graphics division after that, and then on to Intel in 2017).

Obviously we can’t say anything concrete about what this might be, but it does make sense that it may be the high-end gaming GPU, with the tweet acting as a cryptic teaser (very much in Koduri’s style). Besides, if it isn’t DG2, then what is it? Furthermore, VideoCardz, which spotted this, presents some evidence to further the case.

Blowing up the image and doing some detective work, VideoCardz observes that the 3DMark benchmarking suite running on the test system has all the various tests installed, including the DirectX DXR test.

And as you’re likely aware, Intel’s Xe-HPG (high-performance gaming) graphics card brings in support for hardware accelerated ray tracing, whereas existing Xe GPUs don’t do ray tracing, suggesting the testing is being done on DG2 (otherwise, it’d be pointless to be using the DXR test).

Mesh matters

Further remember that DG2 was recently seen being tested with 3DMark’s Mesh Shader benchmark, so it is clearly already undergoing testing. While all the pieces seem to fit together in a fashion, then, we obviously can’t get too carried away about jumping to conclusions here.

Koduri notes that whatever the prototype graphics card being tested is, the card is over 20 times faster than the tech that he was testing in the lab nine years ago, again hinting at a high-performing GPU (previous chatter from the grapevine has indicated that Xe-HPG will roughly be an RTX 3070 rival).

If testing is moving forward at a good pace, as is seemingly the case, we can be hopeful that Intel’s high-performance graphics card (which could be made by TSMC) might still be on course for a 2021 launch, as was previously rumored.

As well as the getting the hardware down, of course, Intel will also have a good deal of work on the software side with ensuring that initial drivers are up to scratch.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).