Earlier this week, we got our first glimpse of Intel’s Xe GPU in action when they showed a live demo of it running Destiny 2 on one of their new Tiger Lake laptops during their CES press conference. At the time, the GPU code-named DG1 was buried deep inside the laptop, but now Intel have released some official images of the desktop version of their upcoming Xe graphics card as well. Technically, Intel are calling it their “DG1 software development vehicle” (or DG1 SDV), but this is what’s now being shipped to software companies around the world to get them ready for what Xe has to offer when it launches later this year.
As you can see from the images above, The DG1 SDV is quite a small little thing with just a single fan to keep itself cool and a smattering of blue LEDs down one side. No other desktop GPUs were shown to press during CES, although I’m sure there will be other, larger versions available to buy once Xe has its official launch later in the year.
Indeed, Intel told Anandtech that they’re only producing small quantities of this DG1 SDV right now so that software makers can start getting themselves ready ahead of Xe’s release date.
As for details on the Xe DG1 card itself, Intel are still keeping their, ahem, cards very close to their chest at the moment. Intel haven’t revealed anything about its underlying architecture, its power requirements or what kind of performance we might be able to expect from it. Instead, the main focus at CES this year seems to have just been to show that it’s working, which Intel did on stage during their press conference, albeit in laptop form rather than on a desktop.
What we do know, though, is that the Xe GPU architecture as a whole has been designed to scale across multiple products and use cases, from laptops all the way up to data centres. According to Anandtech, the DG1 GPU shown on stage inside the laptop and the DG1 SDV card are both based on what Intel are currently calling their Xe-LP (or low power) microarchitecture, which will also form the basis of the integrated graphics chips inside their upcoming Tiger Lake CPUs, and there will also be Xe-HP (probably high power) and Xe-HPC microarchitectures (likely standing for high performance computing) further down the line.
As a result, whatever form the DG1 SDV Xe card takes at retail will likely err toward the lower-end of today’s best graphics cards rather than the super high-end. Indeed, the images don’t show any kind of power cable sticking out of it, which suggests it’s running solely off the motherboard’s PCIe slot, making it more akin to an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti or GTX 1650 than anything else.
That’s by no means a bad thing, but Intel will likely have to do something really quite special in order to break into the already heated competition between Nvidia and AMD at this end of the price spectrum, as there are already loads of highly-capable cards vying for our hard-earned money here. Until Intel tell us a bit more about it, though, we’ll just have to content ourselves with the pictures for now.For more news from this year's CES, check out our CES 2020 tag.