Home News General Intel launches desktop Iris Xe GPUs, but you can’t buy one

Intel launches desktop Iris Xe GPUs, but you can’t buy one

Building on the foundation of the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics in 11th Gen Intel Core mobile processors and based on the same Xe-LP microarchitecture, Intel Iris Xe MAX is the company’s first Xe-based discrete graphics processing unit (GPU). It addresses an emerging need for content creation performance in thin-and-light laptops. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

During CES 2020 before the world retreated indoors to stave off a pandemic, Intel announced that it would be creating a desktop GPU.

This announcement came after years of rumours that Intel was moving into the discrete GPU space and now, those GPUs have been launched.

The GPU which is codenamed DG1 has been developed with two “ecosystem partners” though Intel only names one – ASUS. This means Intel isn’t producing the cards but rather handing off that responsibility to other manufacturers.

Now for the bad news. The card is only being sold to system integrators which will offer the GPUs as part of a pre-built system. That means you won’t be able to buy one of these cards without purchasing an entire system. Though, you might not want one of these cards just yet.

Intel’s announcement regarding the launch of the DG1 is rather threadbare and there isn’t much to look at in terms of specs.

What we do know is that the DG1 will sport 4GB of video memory and 80 execution units.

“The new cards offer a compelling upgrade to existing options in the market segment. They feature three display outputs; hardware video decode and encode acceleration, including AV1 decode support; Adaptive Sync; Display HDR support and artificial intelligence capabilities thanks to DP4a deep-learning inference acceleration,” Intel said in its press release.

That market segment Intel mentions is “the high-volume, value-desktop market” which means that we’re more than likely going to see these GPUs in machines destined for offices or affordable desktops.

It’s clear the DG1 isn’t meant to be a competitor to the likes of AMD and Nvidia but rather a way to bolster the performance of lower end systems.

A year ago this would have seemed strange given notebooks are likely a more affordable option for those in need of a PC but with more folks working and learning from home, a cheap PC that doesn’t freeze up when you have three browser windows open makes a lot of sense.

We now look to the likes of ASUS, HP, Lenovo and Dell to see whether they integrate the DG1 into systems. We’re hopeful that those system builders can keep costs low even with a discrete GPU.

Whether Intel is looking to play in the same space as AMD and Nvidia is unclear but if the DG1 proves successful, perhaps we’ll see Intel entering the enthusiast segment and that can only be good for competition.

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