The hot graphics card market needs another new choice

"Seeking change" is an important signal that Intel has released to the outside world in the past two years.

Last year, Intel's high-profile official announced that it would return to the discrete graphics card market. This was not a rash decision for the blue giant who has been in the semiconductor industry for more than 60 years.

2021 was the best year for the graphics card market, and it was also the worst year. According to a report released by Graphic Speak, the graphics card market will exceed US$50 billion in shipments in 2021, with a sharp increase of 30%, and the market is in short supply.

The graphics card boom has benefited manufacturers, but it has suffered for players. As a large number of graphics cards flow into the cryptocurrency circle, it has become a difficult task to buy a graphics card at a normal price in the market. Problems such as shortage, price increase, and mining cards have long plagued DIY players.

The graphics card circle has formed a vicious circle of "the greater the demand, the more expensive the price". In this regard, Intel CEO Pat Kissinger said that high-performance graphics cards do not need to become so expensive. The emergence of Intel is to break this vicious circle. .

During this year, Intel has been making continuous moves. First, it released Intel’s new high-performance graphics card brand Intel Sharp, and then successively launched mobile and desktop graphics cards to the market, quickly gaining a firm foothold in the graphics card market. Recently, Intel has released the important graphics card driver update version 3959, which has greatly improved the performance of DX9 games such as "League of Legends" and "CS:GO" for the Ruixuan graphics card family. Some DX9 games have achieved a performance jump of up to 1.8 times.

First create and then defend, Intel's blueprint in the field of personal high-performance graphics computing has now basically completed construction. Why is Intel joining the graphics card wars? How does Intel interpret the future of graphics computing? We can all find answers to these questions now.

The "spoiler" in the market alone

Although Intel has always been a giant in the CPU field in everyone's impression, Intel is no stranger to making graphics cards.

If there is a small blue label with "iRIS" on your computer, then you have already used Intel's sharp moment core graphics card. For most people, sharp moment is enough for playing online games, mild Most of the graphics processing work such as video editing.

However, users such as hardcore gamers and visual workers have higher requirements for the graphics processing capabilities of computers, so Intel has launched a discrete graphics card brand Arc for this group, the Chinese name is Ruixuan, and its own core Graphics cards are also "sharp characters".

Intel's sharp graphics card made its first public appearance on Architecture Day in August 2021, along with Intel's Xe HPG microarchitecture, which will be the cornerstone of the development of sharp graphics cards. Iterative upgrades based on the architecture.

The code name of the first-generation Ruixuan graphics card is Alchemist (Alchemist), and the subsequent code names will be changed in alphabetical order of the first letter, namely Battlemage (Battle Mage), Celestial (Heavenly Man), Druid (Druid), only from It is not difficult to see that these code names are very familiar to gamers, and the game performance will be the focus of the development of Ruixuan graphics card.

People's speculation was quickly verified. At the Intel On Technology Innovation Summit two months later, Intel announced a lot of technical details about the Intel Sharp A series, including support for XeSS oversampling technology, allowing CPU and GPU to collaborate The working Deep Link technology, etc., proves that Intel, as a latecomer, is not far behind its opponents in terms of graphics technology.

With a lot of experience accumulation and technology irrigation, the implementation of Ruixuan graphics card is a matter of course. In March this year, Intel announced the launch of the Ruixuan graphics card series on the mobile side. In terms of naming, it continued the classic naming method of Intel CPU i3, i5, and i7, and was divided into three series: Arc3, Arc5, and Arc7. to the flagship level.

The emergence of Ruixuan graphics card has brought new vitality to the already established graphics card market. Players who were tired of watching the "Red and Green Wars" all look forward to Ruixuan graphics card can restore the price of the graphics card market to rationality as soon as possible. Samsung , Mechanical Revolution and other manufacturers also responded to the needs of players, and soon launched thin and light gaming products equipped with sharp graphics cards. It took less than a year for Ruixuan graphics card to go from PPT to players.

On the desktop side, Intel has successively released a variety of desktop graphics cards such as A380, A750, and A770 in the second half of this year. Among them, the performance of the A770 in some game tests has reached the level of Nvidia RTX3060Ti. This is true for Intel, which has just joined the graphics card competition. Not a bad start.

Judging from the technical details disclosed by Intel, the secret of Intel's ability to come from behind is hidden in the Xe HPG microarchitecture.

At the forefront of graphics technology

Friends who are familiar with Intel Iris core graphics cards should know that the minimum computing unit of Iris graphics cards is EU, and the more EUs there are, the stronger the performance of the graphics card will be.

When it comes to the Xe HPG (High Performance Graphics) microarchitecture of Ruixuan discrete graphics card, the concept of EU is replaced by the Xe-Core core, and Xe-Core becomes a new computing execution unit.

Intel stuffed each Xe-Core with a set of 256-bit vector engines for accelerating traditional graphics and computing workloads and a 1024-bit matrix engine for AI computing workloads.

These concepts are not easy to understand, but it doesn't matter, you just need to know that Xe HPG has finally realized the most cutting-edge graphics technology in the graphics card circle: ray tracing and super sampling technology.

Let’s talk about ray tracing, the favorite of 3A masterpieces. Nowadays, whether or not ray chasing can be turned on has become one of the conditions for evaluating whether a game screen is exquisite. After ray chasing is turned on, the frame rate of the graphics card is also an important criterion to reflect the performance of the graphics card. Graphics card manufacturers will add special light for high-performance graphics cards. Computing units for tracking services, and Intel is no exception.

On the Ruixuan graphics card, every 4 Xe-Cores can form a "rendering slice". On this basis, Intel has also added hardware for real-time 3D rendering and optimization, and 4 hardware light-tracking units, equivalent to A collaborative "rendering squad".

As the number of Xe-Cores increases, the graphics card's rendering and light computing capabilities will become stronger. Intel can therefore flexibly design graphics cards according to user needs by adjusting the number of Xe-Cores, which has high scalability.

Taking the A770 graphics card as an example, it has 32 Xe-Cores and 32 ray tracing computing units, so it can catch up with mainstream high-performance graphics cards such as RTX 3060Ti in terms of graphics performance and ray tracing performance. With the upgrade of the Xe-HPG architecture in the future, sharp Hyun graphics card can add more Xe-Core, and its performance will be steadily improved accordingly.

Another important role of Xe-Core's AI acceleration engine is to implement XeSS super-sampling technology. Its technical principle is similar to Nvidia's DLSS deep learning super-sampling technology. It can analyze the pixels of the screen through AI and calculate the adjacent similar pixels.

What's the use? Friends who love to play games should know that the clarity and fluency of the picture are often the relationship between fish and bear's paw. Excessive picture precision will increase the burden of graphics card calculations, thereby affecting the number of frames of the picture. Just lower the picture quality.

Among them, reducing the resolution is the most obvious way to increase the frame, because reducing the resolution means that the number of pixels rendered by the graphics card is reduced, and the workload is also greatly reduced.

After using the XeSS super-sampling technology, you can break this embarrassing relationship. The graphics card can use 1080P low-resolution rendering content, and then use AI technology to fill the screen, and the output is close to 4K ultra-high resolution screen, while the fluency is still 1080P fluency level.

Theoretically, the stronger the AI ​​computing power, the closer the output picture will be to the native rendering picture, and the fluency will be higher. This is indeed a unique skill for mid-performance graphics cards.

Compared with DLSS, which can only be played by itself, the open source XeSS technology that supports the DP4a instruction set is more open. It can be applied to graphics platforms including nuclear graphics and even other brands, which is more conducive to the promotion of super-resolution technology.

Another advantage of Ruixuan graphics card lies in the video codec. Apart from supporting VP9, ​​AVC, H.264, H.265 and other mainstream standards, Ruixuan graphics card also supports the currently popular AV1 standard.

AV1 encoding is a new generation of open source video codec standard launched by the development media alliance composed of Amazon, Apple, Arm, Cisco, Meta, Google, Huawei, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, NVIDIA, Samsung, Tencent and other giants.

Ruixuan graphics card is the first graphics card with built-in AV1 hardware codec, which can provide AV1 hardware acceleration for Da Vinci, Premiere Pro, FFMPEG and other software, and the encoding speed is 4.4 times faster than traditional software encoding.

Generally speaking, although the Xe HPG microarchitecture of Ruixuan graphics card is only released for the first time, it already has mainstream graphics processing capabilities and a clear technical development route. If Intel can continue to improve the driver of Ruixuan graphics card, then its future performance The performance will not be underestimated.

The driver also plays an important role in the performance and stability of the graphics card. The recently released version 3959 driver for DX9 games by Intel has brought significant improvements to some popular games such as League of Legends, CS:GO and StarCraft II. League of Legends It can reach 50%, 1080P CS:GO can reach 70-80%, 1080P StarCraft II can reach 40-50%, which greatly improves the fluency of the game. These improvements all reflect the potential of Intel graphics.

Although Intel has only recently entered the graphics card market, it is not hard to see its serious attitude from various performances. After continuous iterative development in the future, Intel's graphics cards are likely to become more powerful and efficient. It also becomes more attractive to gamers and PC enthusiasts. At that time, Intel will catch up with its rivals in the GPU field and form a tripartite situation with Nvidia and AMD.

Making CPUs and graphics cards is ultimately to create ecology

Everything is difficult at the beginning, and it is even more difficult to open up a new situation in a highly solidified market. Intel chose to join this struggle when the competition in the graphics card market was the most intense, which is enough to prove its courage and determination, as well as its confidence in its own research and development capabilities.

In recent years, the rapid development of industries such as games, video, and artificial intelligence has made users have higher requirements for 3D rendering graphics computing, video coding, and big data processing capabilities. industry's attention.

With the entry of Intel, the independent graphics card market will usher in a new and powerful competitor, and the development of graphics card industry technology will also be accelerated. More new technologies and new applications will be possible in this increasingly fierce produced in competition.

In the future, Intel may continue to use its own advantages to add more functions to the Ruixuan graphics card in AI computing, media processing, and data transmission, so as to broaden the breadth of chip work and meet the increasingly segmented needs of users. The emergence of Ruixuan graphics card has given the graphics card market an unprecedented choice.

With the advancement of manufacturing technology, the competition in the graphics card market will become more intense. When all competitors are unable to surpass each other in terms of computing power, how to maximize data utilization will become a new point of contention for manufacturers. At this time, Intel, which came with Ruixuan, is already warming up and preparing to participate in the future battle of graphics cards.

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