Intel Xe

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Intel Xe
Release dateSeptember 2, 2020 (2020-09-02)
PredecessorGen 11

Intel Xe (stylized as Xe), also known as Gen 12,[1][2] is the name of a GPU architecture[3] and a general purpose GPU (GPGPU) and discrete GPU (dGPU) product line under development by Intel.

Intel Xe includes a new instruction set architecture. The Xe GPU family consists of a series of microarchitectures, ranging from integrated/low power (Xe-LP),[4] to enthusiast/high performance gaming (Xe-HPG), datacenter/high performance (Xe-HP) and high performance computing (Xe-HPC).[5][6]


Intel's first attempt at a dedicated graphics card was the Intel740,[7] released in February 1998. Released to a hyped audience, the Intel740 was a disappointment and failure due to its performance being below expectations, being discontinued just 18 months after release. However, its technology lived on in the Intel Extreme Graphics lineup.[8] Intel made another attempt with the Larrabee architecture before cancelling it in 2009;[9] this time, the technology developed was used in the Xeon Phi, which was discontinued in 2020.[10]

In April 2018, it was reported that Intel was assembling a team to develop discrete graphics processing units, targeting both datacenters, as well as the PC gaming market, and therefore competitive with products from both Nvidia and AMD.[11] Rumors supporting the claim included that the company had vacancies for over 100 graphics-related jobs, and had taken on former Radeon Technologies Group (AMD) leader Raja Koduri in late 2017 – the new product was reported to be codenamed "Arctic Sound".[11] The project was reported to have initially been targeting video streaming chips for data centers, but had its scope expanded to include desktop GPUs.[11]

In June 2018, Intel confirmed it planned to launch a discrete GPU in 2020.[12]

In September 2019, reported that the Xe graphics (formally "Gen 12") would represent a large change in the instruction set architecture (ISA) of Intel's GPUs, with practically all instruction encodings being altered.[2] The Xe graphics ISA is expected to ship with the Tiger Lake product line.

The first functional discrete "Xe" GPU, codenamed "DG1", was reported as having begun testing in October 2019.[13]

According to a report by in late 2019, a discrete GPU would launch in mid 2020; combined GPU/CPU (GPGPU) products were also expected, for data center and autonomous driving applications. The product is expected to be initially built on a 10 nm node (with 7 nm products in 2021) and use Intel's Foveros die stacking packaging technology (see 3D die stacking).[14]


Intel Xe includes a new instruction set architecture. The Xe GPU family consists of a series of microarchitectures.


Xe-LP is the low power variant of the Xe architecture.[4] The Xe-LP architecture is present as integrated graphics for 11th-generation Intel Core and the Iris Xe MAX mobile dedicated GPU (codenamed DG1), as well as in the H3C XG310 Intel Server GPU (codenamed SG1).[2]


Xe-HPG is the enthusiast or high performance gaming variant of the Xe architecture. The microarchitecture is focused on graphics performance and supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing.[5][15] The microarchitecture is based on Xe-LP with improvements from Xe-HP and Xe-HPC. It will be fabricated using an external fab.[5]


Xe-HP is the datacenter/high performance variant of Xe, optimized for FP64 performance and multi-tile scalability.[3]


Xe-HPC is the high performance computing variant of the Xe architecture.[5][6] It powers Ponte Vecchio.[16]


Intel Iris Xe Max (DG1)[edit]

In August 2020, Intel was reported to be shipping Xe DG1 GPUs for a possible late 2020 release, while also commenting on a DG2 GPU aimed at the enthusiast market. The DG1 is also sold as the Iris Xe MAX and as Iris Xe Graphics (stylized as iRIS Xe) in laptops, while cards for developers are sold as the DG1 SDV.[17][18]

The Xe MAX is an entry-level GPU that was first released on November 1, 2020 in China and is similar in most aspects to the integrated GPU found in Tiger Lake processors, the only differences being a higher clock speed, slightly higher performance and dedicated memory and a dedicated TDP requirement. It competes with Nvidia's laptop-level GeForce MX series GPUs. It is aimed at slim and highly portable productivity laptops and has 4GB of dedicated LPDDR4X-4266 memory with a 128-bit wide memory bus, has 96 EUs, 48 texture units, 24 ROPs, a peak clock speed of 1650 MHz and a performance of 2.46 FP32 teraFLOPs with a 25w TDP. By comparison, the integrated GPU in Tiger Lake processors has a performance of 2.1 FP32 teraFLOPs.[19][20] The Xe MAX does not replace the system's integrated GPU; instead it was designed to work alongside it, so tasks are split between the integrated and discrete GPUs.[21] It is initially available on only 3 laptops: The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 TP470, the Acer Swift 3X, and the Dell Inspiron 15 7000. Intel Xe MAX GPUs can only be found on systems with Tiger Lake processors.

Desktop versions of the Xe MAX were expected to be released in early 2021 exclusively to OEMs for use in low-cost desktop computers. Such computers are expected to have graphics that are better than those offered by integrated GPUs while saving on costs and allowing OEMs to advertise the dedicated GPU in such systems.[22]

Intel Iris Xe Graphics desktop cards[edit]

Intel officially announced Intel Iris Xe Graphics desktop cards for OEMs and system integrators(SI) on January 26, 2021. It is aimed at mainstream desktop and business PCs as an improvement over other graphics options in AV1 video decoding, HDR (High Dynamic Range) video support and deep learning inference, and is not as powerful as its laptop counterpart, with only 80 enabled EUs. The first cards are made by Asus, have DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, Dual Link DL-DVI-D outputs and are passively cooled.[23][24][25]

Ponte Vecchio[edit]

Intel officially announced their Xe general HPC/AI GPU codenamed Ponte Vecchio on November 17, 2019. The chip is to use Intel's 'Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge' (EMIB) and Foveros die stacking packaging on a 7 nm node. The new GPU is expected to be used in Argonne National Laboratory's new exascale supercomputer, Aurora, with compute nodes comprising two Intel Xeon (Sapphire Rapids) CPUs, and six Ponte Vecchio GPUs.[26][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cutress, Ian (12 December 2018), "Intel's Architecture Day 2018: The Future of Core, Intel GPUs, 10nm, and Hybrid x86",, p. 5, Intel will use the Xe branding for its range of graphics that were unofficially called ‘Gen12’ in previous discussions
  2. ^ a b c Hill, Brandon (9 Sep 2019), "Intel Says Tiger Lake Gen12 Xe Graphics Is Its Biggest Architectural Revamp In A Decade",
  3. ^ a b Smith, Ryan. "The Intel Xe-LP GPU Architecture Deep Dive: Building Up The Next Generation". Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  4. ^ a b Salter, Jim (2020-11-04). "Intel enters the laptop discrete GPU market with Xe Max". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, Ryan. "Intel's Xe-HPG GPU Unveiled: Built for Enthusiast Gamers, Built at a Third-Party Fab".
  6. ^ a b Alderson, Alex. "The Intel Xe-HP NEO hits Geekbench with 512 compute units, 4,096 shading units and 6 GB of HBM2 VRAM". Notebookcheck. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  7. ^ Hollister, Sean (January 9, 2020). "This is Intel's first discrete graphics card in 20 years, but you can't buy one". The Verge.
  8. ^ "Evolution Of Intel Graphics: i740 To Iris Pro | Tom's Hardware".
  9. ^ "Intel scraps graphics chip based on Larrabee". December 6, 2009 – via
  10. ^ "Intel Quietly Kills Off Xeon Phi - ExtremeTech".
  11. ^ a b c Evangelho, Jason (11 Apr 2018), "Intel Is Developing A Desktop Gaming GPU To Fight Nvidia, AMD",
  12. ^ Hill, Brandon (12 June 2018), "Intel To Power Up Its First Discrete GPU Confirmed For 2020 Launch",
  13. ^ Allan, Darren (26 Oct 2019), "Intel's first Xe graphics card is officially 'alive' and coming for AMD and Nvidia",
  14. ^ Tyson, Mark (16 Oct 2019), "Industry sources say discrete Intel Xe cards will arrive mid-2020",
  15. ^ "Intel Xe graphics: Everything you need to know about Intel's dedicated GPUs". Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  16. ^ Smith, Ryan. "Intel Teases Ponte Vecchio Xe-HPC Power On, Posts Photo of Server Chip". Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  17. ^ "Intel Xe DG1 GPU is shipping and will release this year". TechSpot. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  18. ^ Mujtaba, Hassan (2020-01-09). "Intel's First Xe DG1 GPU Based Desktop Discrete Graphics Card Pictured". Wccftech. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  19. ^ Smith, Ryan. "Intel's Discrete GPU Era Begins: Intel Launches Iris Xe MAX For Entry-Level Laptops". Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  20. ^ "Intel Launches New Xe Max Mobile GPUs for Entry-Level Content Creators - ExtremeTech". Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  21. ^ Salter, Jim (2020-11-04). "Intel enters the laptop discrete GPU market with Xe Max". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  22. ^ "Iris Xe Max: 5 Things You Need to Know About Intel's First Discrete GPU". PCMAG. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  23. ^ "Intel Releases Iris Xe Desktop Graphics Cards". Intel Newsroom. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  24. ^ "Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics—Dedicated GPU for PCs". Intel. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  25. ^ Smith, Ryan. "Intel Iris Xe Video Cards Now Shipping To OEMs: DG1 Lands In Desktops". Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  26. ^ Intel Unveils New GPU Architecture with High-Performance Computing and AI Acceleration, and oneAPI Software Stack with Unified and Scalable Abstraction for Heterogeneous Architectures (press release), Intel, 17 Nov 2019
  27. ^ Cutress, Ian (17 Nov 2019), "Intel's Xe for HPC: Ponte Vecchio with Chiplets, EMIB, and Foveros on 7nm, Coming 2021",