Intel's Architecture day reveals details on Alder Lake and the Xe HPG GPU

Written by Jennifer Allen

August 17, 2020 | 11:00

Tags: #alder-lake #willow-cove #xe-hpg

Companies: #intel

During Intel's Architecture day last week, more details were unveiled about Intel's Alder Lake chip, the Willow Cove architecture, as well as what to expect from the upcoming Xe HPG discrete graphics card.

Essentially a bevy of promising information that is - of course - tinged with Intel keen to muster up some hype, it was an interesting set of announcements to break down. First of all, there was news of the upcoming Tiger Lake chip which promises a "greater than generational improvement in CPU" performance. That means drastically increased clock speeds compared to the current generation chips, lower power usage, PCI Express 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, and also an integrated Xe GPU. 

Broken down, Tiger Lake is expected to be available in a number of different configurations ranging from devices consuming less than 10 watts up to 65 watts. With lower operating voltage and promising 20 percent lower power when computing using the Gaussian Neural Accelerator, it still promises what Intel refers to as "dramatic" frequency increases compared to the previous generation. It should be more substantial than the incremental changes we've seen of late with Intel processors, presumably thanks to its use of the Willow Cove architecture.

The news regarding Tiger Lake was expected given it was added to Intel's public roadmap last year but we should be getting nearer to something more substantial with solid rumours suggesting that it may launch in September. That ties into past announcements whereby Intel promised over 50 Tiger Lake notebooks would be made available by the holidays - i.e. November/December time. 

Intel didn't stop there either with announcements. It also used the day to discuss its upcoming Xe HPG discrete graphics card which promises hardware ray tracing as hoped. The downside being that it won't be available until 2021 with laptops getting in on the action first. In a statement, Intel's Raja Koduri, senior vice president, chief architect, and general manger of Architecture, Graphics and Software, explained that the focus is on targeting enthusiast gamers: "we know enthusiast gamers are the hardest bunch to impress. They love products that have the best performance, best performance per watt, performance per dollar and latest, greatest features all at the same time."

Not many other details were released about the new Xe HPG but we were told that it will use a new GDDR6 memory controller, and that it will be externally manufactured rather than manufactured by Intel itself. And there's the big piece of news regarding the focus being on laptops for now with the suggestion being that the goal is to offer 2 times the performance over the 10th generation's Ice Lake's Gen 11 graphics without increasing power consumption.

For now, it's marketing bluster but it's certainly promising even if Intel hasn't offered more concrete figures or further details regarding how the comparisons have been made. Expect more details to emerge over the coming weeks. 

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