The Intel Xe DG1 'software development vehicle' PCIe card
The first Intel Xe graphics products will be launched in 2020
The DG1 discrete GPU and Tiger Lake will be among the first launches
Intel's 'software development vehicle' will not be a retail product
Intel has unveiled its first discrete graphics card, but you won't be able to buy one. The unit is for developers only, and will be seeded throughout the industry to allow software makers to get an idea of how to optimise their work for Intel's new Xe graphics architecture. The card is an implementation of the DG1 GPU, which will be Intel's first discrete GPU, slated to launch this year. The move shows that Intel is very close to releasing graphics products, although we don't yet know what form they will take. Intel was quick to emphasise that no conclusions should be drawn from the appearance or performance level of the card being demonstrated, and that it is not necessarily an indication of what any upcoming retail product will be like.
The company is not yet ready to disclose timelines, specifications, performance targets, or any other concrete details, but the launch of the developer kit should inspire confidence in the industry. Intel showed the device running gameplay demos at CES, but would not comment on whether or not this represents the performance of a final shipping product. Intel also had laptops with functioning DG1 discrete GPUs at the show, but only shown under glass, and was not offering hands-on demos.
The Intel Xe DG1 demo unit was running a game at 1080p
Intel has said that DG1 will be tuned for power efficiency but will be capable of supporting gaming and content creation workloads. The development kit with its dual-slot cooler will of course not be as thermally constrained as a GPU running within a thin-and-light laptop chassis. Software and driver support is also not yet final.
The DG1 kit has a metal shroud with a fairly elaborate design and RGB LEDs for show, but the company would also not comment on whether final shipping products will have the same look. It has three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port, like many consumer graphics cards. Notably, it has no PCIe power connectors, indicating that total power draw is within the 75W that PCIe slots can provide.
Disclosure: Intel sponsored the correspondent's flights and hotel for CES 2020
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Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 13 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new comes along