it's going to be a while before we see Intel Xe GPUs make their way into laptops, much less into the best graphics cards, but at CES 2020 we at least got a glimpse of them in action.
Intel has been super cagey about any information about these upcoming GPUs, and the only information we really know is that the integrated versions coming to the upcoming Tiger Lake will be approximately twice as fast as the Gen11 graphics found in the latest Ice Lake chips.
That's a huge jump in performance, certainly. It still means that Tiger Lake laptops aren't going to compete with the best gaming laptops, though they aren't really meant to, either.
What's more interesting, then, is the mysterious DG1 Xe GPU that was teased at Intel's CES 2020 press conference. We basically know nothing about this graphics chip beyond the fact that it's a discrete graphics processor and is built for mobile.
That's probably disappointing news for anyone that's hoping for a desktop graphics card from Intel, but given Intel's recent priorities with its laptops, it's hardly surprising that it would kick things off with a mobile chip.
Xe isn't ready for market yet, but it's getting there
For the last couple of years Intel Xe graphics have always felt like this abstract thing hovering in the distance, rather than a product on the verge of release. However, if Intel proved anything this year at CES, it's that Xe is real and on its way.
Intel invited us to check it out for ourselves, and we got to play a bit of Destiny 2 on a laptop equipped with DG1 – even if it was a rough experience. The frame rate wasn't super high, and there was a lot of stuttering, meaning that this isn't a market-ready experience yet.
That's fine, of course, as the GPU is still in its early stages and CES is, if nothing else, built for these conceptual announcements that won't be hitting the market for a while.
What it did prove, however, is that Intel Xe can run games right now, which means Intel will be working on optimizing performance over the coming months to make sure it can compete with comparable chips from Nvidia and AMD.
Intel is working on it
Intel knows that the DG1 is still early in production, so when we were talking with Team Blue about its new graphics chip, we were told that it's still in development, but that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Intel is shipping out DG1 out to developers so that they can start to optimize games and creative software to run well on the GPU, and they're doing so on some PCIe cards, in order to make the work easier.
That does mean that we got to see some neat renders of Intel graphics cards, even if none of them ever make it out to market as actual products.
One thing that helps put our mind at rest while all this development and optimization goes on is that Intel seems to be open to community feedback through its Odyssey program. This is essentially a community of graphics enthusiasts that Intel is collecting feedback from.
Hopefully this will result in Intel producing GPUs that can live up to the hype it's cultivated over the last couple of years, but only time will tell. We're as ready as anyone else for a third manufacturer to enter into the graphics card wars, but only time will tell what that will look like.
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