You will be playing games, in Full HD, in excellent conditions on your ultraportable equipped with a Tiger Lake processor ”. Here is the promise all Intel spokespeople made during 11th Generation Intel Core Processor Presentation Conference.
Of the nine processors made official last night, five have the Iris X graphics controller on boarde, Intel’s latest innovation in 3D. And on paper, it will clearly reshuffle the cards and set the record straight, especially with AMD but also with Nvidia.
It took more than two years of development for the teams led by Raja Koduri (ex-head of AMD Radeon) to set up this circuit compatible with DirectX 11 and 12 but also the Vulkan API. And this first representative of Xe will soon be joined by more sturdy cronies.
A few weeks ago, Intel announced that it would be able to deliver the first dedicated graphics cards for our desktops during 2021. According to these same statements, more powerful versions for laptops would also be on the menu for next year or by 2022 at the latest.
Quick and simplified anatomy of the Iris Xe
We won’t go into the technical details, but it seemed important to quickly show you what the more elaborate version of the Iris X looks like.e. It has 96 execution units (UE) and can turbinate up to 1.35 GHz on the Core i7-1185G7 and up to 1.1 GHz on the Core i7-1130G7.
As on traditional graphics cards, the UEs – the workers – are stored in “boxes” (three on each side below), in equal quantity and all of these “containers” are identical. They all have the same type of units (Sampler, Media Sampler, etc.) and communicate with each other.
Next layer: the four large motor units and the generation of triangles, shaders etc. who dominate all our boxes and make sure that everyone does their job well while centralizing and (re) distributing the tasks to the workers.
At the top, in the middle, it is the cache memory of the chip. It is the place that serves both for data storage and places for exchanging information between the processor and the GPU mainly.
On either side of the cache are several other units, one of which is dedicated to video stream processing which deserves our attention.
This large component can facilitate the work of the processor when it comes to playing … and streaming your games! According to Intel spokespersons, this is also possible even if the Xe is not bloated on steroids.
Used in its primary function, the hardware part dedicated to video decodes all the latest fashionable formats. HDR or not, 4K or Full HD, nothing scares him.
It will even be able to participate in the encoding work if necessary, with – also – the support of all the instructions relating to the AI engraved on the Xe (DL Boost: DPA4a). As the graph below shows, it would even afford the luxury of being x4 faster than the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U on the MLPerf test, according to Intel metrics.
But no more learning, coding, decoding and chatting: we are here to talk about gaming and more precisely, to play on an ultraportable PC which – originally – is not at all cut out for that!
According to Intel, playing on an ultraportable will be possible
Intel is said to be on the way to fulfilling an old dream of an ultraportable PC user: playing a recent game, simply using the integrated processor controller of their machine.
So far, we can not say that the Intel versions have been illustrated in this area. But the Tiger Lakes have everything to change the situation as we briefly explained above. And to illustrate its point, for its part, Intel has gone all out.
Below is the comparison between the old controller Ice Lake, the Iris Plus, and the new Iris Xe Tiger Lake on a fairly large and varied range of games.
According to the test protocols provided by Intel, the titles are all running at 1080p with, mostly details set to Medium. PUBG, for its part is in Low, and CS: GO in High. The column of numbers on the left represents the number of frames per second recorded on average.
If we are to believe these data, the bar of 30 images per second has been reached on nine of the 14 control titles. Some scores are even above 40 fps. Clearly, it is graphically acceptable and playable.
The most observant will notice that the mention RSV is present right next to Gears Tactics. The exe actually supports Variable Rate Shading which, as we recall, manages to intelligently balance the computing power to be used according to the textures displayed on the screen. It is used a lot in auto racing games: the GPU concentrates its power on what the player sees in front of him and not on the scenery which scrolls past at full speed.
By the way, note that the display controller (the Display Engine) supports also A-Sync, screens with very high refresh rates (up to 360 Hz, according to Intel) connected in HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, Thunderbolt 4 even in USB4 Type-C.
Support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision is also hard-written in the controller, a means of evacuating the drawbacks caused by a possible software overlay which would require permanent optimizations.
Intel is attacking AMD, of course, but also Nvidia
It is frankly not in Intel’s habit to show muscles and teeth during its presentations. It is even rare that it makes straightforward comparisons with competing solutions during its launches. However, during the presentation of the Iris Xe, the founder was not deprived of it. As if to dot the “i’s” with AMD and also show Nvidia what it was capable of and, no doubt also, what this version of architecture Xe foreshadowed for the future.
As Intel spokespersons told us, for their comparisons, they took the best machine by AMD Ryzen 7 4800U that they were able to find and, of course, applied the same settings on their platform and on that of the competition. We are still in 1080p according to the Intel documentation, with the same levels of detail.
The AMD Radeon piece of architecture present in AMD’s low-power processor is outclassed. At no time does he seem to be able to regain ascendancy over the Iris Xe. The fact remains that in a large majority of games, however, the Ryzen chip defends itself well and that – just like in Tiger Lake – launching a game is quite possible from time to time.
Unaccustomed to being on Intel’s presentation boards, Nvidia also had the right to its small comparison chart! Of course, since the graphics chip designer doesn’t have a mainstream x86 CPU, Intel had to measure its Iris Xe to a machine with an Intel low-power processor (1065G7 from the Lenovo Xiaoxin Air 14) and a GeForce MX350, equipped with 4 GB of video memory.
As the MX450 was only released very recently and is not yet found on PCs on the market, Intel has not been able to rub shoulders with it.
We wouldn’t have thought the graphics would look like this. Did you expect to see green bars towering above the small blue segments? So do we, to be honest. And yet, much of the opposite is happening. Out of 12 games tested, Intel’s new graphics controller did better 66% of the time. Sometimes it has to be played out at a few frames per second but, all the same, the feat is beautiful on paper.
It will be even more so if, in our future tests, we see these results for ourselves without any heating or noise problem spoiling our experience.