Yes, you read it right. Intel has decided to collaborate with it’s long-time rival AMD to counter NVIDIA’s growing influence in the GPU segment. We’ve covered this before, but Intel has released the performance figures for these SKUs. We’ll be discussing those today.
So, Intel CPUs with Radeon Vega Graphics? What does it mean for the semi-conductor industry?
Well, to be frank, it’s simply a business arrangement. Intel’s own graphics chips are inadequate for the gaming community, so they went to AMD with a proposition that would benefit both parties. To be honest, we’re not sure how it’s going to benefit Intel and to what extend, but for AMD it sure is a win-win. They are just getting paid, while all the advertising and selling is being done by Intel. For them, it’s effortless sales of GPU parts.
The new products are officially named as “Intel 8th Generation Core with Radeon RX Vega M Graphics”, although this will be shortened to “Intel CPUs with Radeon Graphics”.
Strictly speaking, Intel CPUs with Radeon Graphics is a new Intel product which uses an ‘H-series’ Intel processor and an AMD Radeon graphics processor as two separate chips on the same package. The graphics processor part is designed by AMD’s semi-custom division responsible for making the APUs that power the consoles. The graphics is connected to HBM2 (second generation high-bandwidth memory) using Intel’s new embedded multi-die interconnect bridge technology (EMIB).
Each of these CPU’s feature four Intel ‘H’ cores, along with the traditional hyper-threading technique and here’s the surprise. These processors will ship with not only a Vega GPU but will also pack an Intel iGPU.
Why Two Sets of Graphics?
- One, Intel probably didn’t want to fabricate an entirely new chip(s) based on the 8th gen design. So, they decided to go ahead with the multi-die interconnect bridge to save money and resources.
- Second, and a more reasonable one is that just like notebooks with NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, the Intel iGPU will serve as a low power graphics solution for simple tasks like playing videos.
This will also make the battery life more viable, after all these SKUs are part of Intel’s mobile family. The Radeon graphics offers power-gating at the compute-unit level, allowing the system to adjust power as needed or is available. It provides an additional six displays up to 4K while the Intel HD graphics has three, giving a total of nine outputs.
Intel CPUs with Radeon Vega Graphics
GH stands for Graphics High and HL for Graphics Low
Coming to the Radeon RX Vega M graphics, apparently there are going to be two different parts. The ‘GH’ will be the high performance part (H for high) with 24 compute units (1536 streaming processors), 64 pixels per clock, clocked at a base frequency of 1063 MHz and boost clock of up to 1190 MHz. The other part is the lower end ‘GL’ (L for low), with 20 compute units (1280 streaming processors), 32 pixels per clock, running at a base clock of 931 MHz and boost frequency of up to 1011 MHz.
Both the Vega GPU’s will ship with 4GB of HBM2 as the dedicated graphics memory. There will be one stack of HBM2, which along with a 1024 bit bus-width converts to a bandwidth of 208.6 GB/s for the GH chips and 179.6 GB/s for the GLs.
The Intel CPUs with Radeon Vega Graphics will target the mediocre gaming segment. In other words, the mobile devices currently running Intel CPUs with NVIDIA’s mid-range GPUs, such as the MX-150 or the GTX 950M/1050/1060.
However, Intel is comparing their new products to 3 year old products for some reason. Probably because consumers with these systems are looking to upgrade and aren’t very educated about the trends in the industry. These benches aren’t very fair or transparent for that matter so be sure not to take them at face value.
Vega M GL
The first comparison is between the Core i7-8509G with Vega M GL (the high-end part) and a 3-year old Haswell-based Core i7-4720HQ paired with an NVIDIA GTX 950M.
You can draw three conclusions here. Firstly, Vermintide 2 is rarely used for benchmarking which means Intel is short on games that favor it’s new product. Secondly, 3D Mark’s physics and overall score are absent. Only the graphics score has been put up, indicating that there isn’t much of a difference elsewhere. Lastly, the major performance gap is in content creation softwares, namely Handbrake and Adobe’s Premier Pro. These progams leverage OpenCL acceleration and outpace the NVIDIA mobile GPU by 40-60%.
The next bench compares a Core i7-8550U w/ GTX 1050 with the same product.
The choice of games again seem biased here. All these games are AMD partner titles, and DX12 based which are CPU dependent and favor Radeon GPUs.
Here, Intel is comparing a 15W Core i7U paired with 60W NVIDIA graphics against a new system that has a Core i7-H and Radeon graphics each drawing 65W. This is clearly an unfair comparison since the H class CPU draws way more power and will probably cost a fair deal more than the i7-U. What makes it worse is that this is a CPU dependent test. So the CPU power draw will directly affect the game performance. Way to go Intel.
Vega M GH
Same story again. All the comparisons look fishy. The games here are DX12 based that are relatively CPU bound. Nothing new for gamers here. Intel is just targeting the people who aren’t very aware of their marketing shenanigans.
As far as overclocking is concerned, out of the 5 Intel CPUs with Radeon GPUs, only the highest-end Core i7-8809G will support overclocking.
As per Intel, you can overclock the processor core, the integrated graphics frequency, the discrete graphics frequency, and the HBM frequency too. Intel stated that in Windows 10, the CPU and iGPU can be overclocked through Intel XTU, while the pGPU and HBM2 will need AMD’s Radeon Wattman program.
It’s actually hard to draw a conclusion at this point. Intel’s performance figures look skewed, given the choice of games and the SKUs they compared the new products against.
The price has also not been made public yet. The power consumption also remains unclear. Only thing Intel has said about the power draw is that the chip will “dynamically consume it” depending upon the need and usage. We can only say that if the price of these “Intel CPUs with AMD Radeon graphics” products matches those of the competition parts, then Intel might be onto something here. If not, then it’s yet another marketing gimmick by Intel.
For more on this story, read this.