Intel Unveils New GPUs
Lane Long posted on December 19, 2018 |
A Gen11 visualization. (Image courtesy of Intel.)
A Gen11 visualization. (Image courtesy of Intel.)

Intel’s Architecture Day is watched closely by the tech community every year. Last week, however, the company injected a bit more excitement than usual into its roadmapping event by focusing on the expected performance gains of its integrated GPUs. The newest GPU models (Intel’s Gen11 graphics rollout) will have 64 execution units, effectively more than doubling their processing capacity to over 1 trillion floating-point operations per second. That volume of calculations—a teraflop—marks a first for Intel’s integrated GPUs and is a significant landmark for the company’s graphics unit as a whole.

Product Architecture

Structured in much the same way as Intel’s current Gen9 GPUs, the new chips will combine execution units with components dedicated exclusively to 3D processing in blocks. In the Gen11 processors, there will be 16 execution units per block, with 4 blocks comprising a single processor. These 64 execution units—which are responsible for the headline-grabbing teraflop performance—are a significant increase over the 24 most commonly seen in Gen9 GPUs.

The Gen11 processors will also feature a video processing block of 2 encoders and 1 decoder. Intel has entirely overhauled its HEVC/H.265 encoder, which promises to bring even further performance improvements to the chips’ ability to render motion video. The new encoders should fully support both 4k and 8k streaming. Intel is also bringing Adaptive Sync technology to the new processors, which enables the refresh rate to match step-for-step the frame rate churned out by the GPU itself. This last development is particularly important in the video game space, as synchronized refresh and frame rates are vital for the overall smoothness of gameplay.

Implications for the Future

The uptick in processing power promised by Intel’s new GPUs should make many games that were previously slow and choppy perfectly playable.

Intel’s Sunny Cove test platform on display at the company’s Architecture Day last week. (Image courtesy of David Altavilla, Forbes.)
Intel’s Sunny Cove test platform on display at the company’s Architecture Day last week. (Image courtesy of David Altavilla, Forbes.)

Intel put this new development on display using Tekken as an example at 1080p. An uninspiring-at-best, unplayable-at-worst experience on the Gen9 processors ran very smoothly on the Gen11 version. The GPUs, when packaged within Intel’s new Sunny Cove 10nm framework, should deliver very real, tangible gains in performance for applications in gaming and beyond. That’s important, as many technology enthusiasts and business users alike have observed that this is one area in which Intel will need to play catch-up with rivals Nvidia and AMD.


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