Lately, both Intel and Xe project lead, Raja Koduri have been marketing their upcoming graphics cards pretty hard. Most recently, we saw the “Baap of all GPUs” or “Father of all GPU” which is expected to be succeeded by the “Superman of all GPUs”. Raja sure loves his fancy words. In a recent Tweet, he gave away Intel’s plans for gamers with the first wave of Xe products. Turns out the 1st Gen Xe GPUs will mainly focus on the integrated graphics market that reaches “100’s of millions of gamers every year”.
This means that most of Intel’s Xe graphics card that we’ll see in 2020 and 2021 will compete in the entry-level segment against the likes of the GTX 1650 and the Radeon RX 5500 XT. It’s not clear whether we’ll be getting discrete graphics cards in the budget range or simply more powerful integrated graphics. My best is on the latter. Tiger Lake-U is already expected to launch with Gen12 Xe graphics. By the end of the year, we might see the Rocket Lake-S desktop processors with the same iGPUs, reducing the need for a discrete graphics part for many mainstream users.
Manufacturing dGPUs is certainly not an easy task. Intel will need to design the chips, the PCB as well as the heatsinks. We already know that the company hasn’t partnered with any OEMs, and that makes it even more unlikely. Regardless, integrated graphics on the same level as a GTX 1650 isn’t a bad starting point by any means. The majority of Steam gamers still use a GTX 1060, and a CPU with a comparable iGPU is sure to tempt the mainstream PC gaming audience.
Furthermore, Intel stands no chance against NVIDIA and AMD’s high-end parts, and the company is well aware of it. Therefore, staring off with integrated graphics processors that challenge existing entry-level offerings is a sound plan. After all, that’s where both NVIDIA and AMD are the weakest. The GTX 1650 is the cheapest Turing GPU, and it fails to keep up with AMD’s 4-year-old Polaris parts, despite costing more. Below that, you’ve got the Pascal-based GT 1030 which isn’t impressive in the slightest. On AMD’s side, you’re looking at the power-hungry, GCN-based Polaris offerings that are yet to get a Navi replacement. Amid such conditions, it shouldn’t be hard for Intel to find a foothold.
PS: The data-center Xe parts will be high-end GPUs with an MCM design (Example: Ponte Vecchio) and HBM2 memory, but that’s a different market altogether. Gamers will have to satisfy themselves with budget, 1080p products.