|Image credit: Intel|
Intel recently revealed the H3C XG310, a GPU AIB targeted at cloud gaming and media streaming. The AIB has four of Intel’s new Server GPUs, DG1dGPU based on the Xe-LP microarchitecture. Each dGPU has 96 execution units and 8GB of LPDDR4X memory. There is a 128-bit memory bus, and Intel fabs the chip on its 10nm SuperFin process. The AIB allows the GPUs to process workloads simultaneously. A PCIe switch is used to connect the GPUs to the AIB’s PCIe interface. Deep Link aggregates multiple processing engines through a common software framework. Deep Link-enabled applications use Intel Media SDK, a Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit, and VTune Profiler.
|Intel’s DG1 dGPU. (Source: Intel)|
The AIB offers accelerated AVC, HEVC, MPEG2, VP9 encode/decode, and AV1 decode. It also has a media plugin for FFMPEG, an open-source framework for video streaming. That provides application compatibility on Xeon processors and the XG310.
Android Cloud gaming. Intel says the Intel Server GPU can support 20 low-latency android games per chip simultaneously. The H3C XG310 PCIe card that integrates four Intel Server GPUs can support greater than 100 simultaneous users in a typical 2 card system and up to 160 simultaneous users, depending on the specific game title and server configuration. The company claims its AIB is cost-effective based on internal Intel research. The company is targeting up to four AIBs per Xeon-based server.
The company has two design wins in Chinese streaming giants Tencent and Unitus. Tencent is the first customer for the XG310. The Vice General Manager of Tencent's XianYou Cloud Gaming Platform, Allen Fang, said cloud gaming is a potentially high growth area in the 5G era, which is strategic for the company.
|An H3C XG310 can stream up to 60 resource-intensive android games or up to 90 light-weight ones at 720p 30 fps. (Source: Intel)|
The XG310 replaces the company’s Visual Compute Accelerator (VCA—discussed here) The VCA used three Xeon E3 processors and Iris iGPU. The new AIB uses four Intel Server GPUs, which are similar to DG1 (discussed here and here). The DG1 is also employed in three new thin and lite notebooks.
|Intel H3C XG310 AIB PCB with four dGPUs and 32 GB of LPDDR4X. (Source: Intel)|
Intel says it has now delivered on its GPU roadmap for 2020. Also, the company recently powered-on the Xe HPG discrete gaming graphics AIB. The segments start with Xe-LP (Low Power) for integrated and low-performance use. Next is the Xe-HPG (High-Performance Gaming) for the gaming market. Alongside that is the Xe-HP (High Performance) for the enterprise market. And the Xe-HPC (High-Performance Computing) targets the supercomputer market. Intel launched the Xe-LP in the Tiger Lake mobile processor. Recently Intel announced the Iris Xe MAX discrete laptop dGPU. A desktop version may also be available soon. All the others are in various stages of development. They will use a variety of process nodes and fabs. Intel says its Server GPU is now shipping to partners.
What do we think?
The GX310 represents the third product based on Intel’s Iris Xe 96 EU GPU design. The iGPU in Tiger Lake is the mobile dGPU in thin and light PCs and is now used on a server game streamer AIB. Although this may look like many GPU products, its only system applications of a basic design. The memory used is LPDDR4X, the same as used by the iGPU in a UMA design. Intel won’t show its true dGPU capabilities until it introduces a device with a few thousand shaders, running GDDR6, and supporting 4k HDR at 60hz. Xe HPG already confirmed to have hardware-accelerated ray tracing at Architecture Day in August 2020. Those chips will be built at TSMC.
Iris Xe MAX dGPU introduced Intel Deep Link technology and is competitive or bests existing products in the same segment. Xe-HPG and Xe-HP will arrive in 2021 for high-performance segments Nonetheless, even if Intel doesn’t have state of the art dGPUs, or even build them, it will be a competitive force and take business away from AMD and Nvidia. It can do that, with average to inferior parts due to its CPU relationships and its brand. As the company has demonstrated in the past with the i740, its brand can carry it far.