Intel is serious about implementing multi-GPU with its incoming graphics cards, it would seem, with another clue emerging from the world of Linux showing that support for using a discrete GPU with an integrated solution is in the works.
As spotted by Phoronix, changes made by Intel in the Linux 5.5 kernel include a section of code for handling the combination of a standalone graphics card and the integrated GPU on board an Intel processor.
In other words, if you’ve got both an Intel GPU and CPU, that graphics card could enlist the help of the otherwise dormant integrated graphics on the processor to help out with whatever task is being tackled.
You might be tempted to dismiss this out of hand as fairly irrelevant, given that integrated graphics aren’t likely to make much of an impact due to the lack of power therein, but the truth is that Intel is making great strides with its iGPUs, particularly with the latest generation of processors. So this could be a genuinely useful thing.
Getting these two graphics elements to work in tandem shouldn’t be too problematic, given that discrete Xe video cards are essentially built from the same basic foundations (Gen12) as Intel’s integrated graphics.
Of course, ultimately we don’t know what’s behind this move – it could, for example, simply be a push with Linux to tap some extra power for basic compute workloads, and a long stretch away from implementing multi-GPU support with games.
Multi-GPU is something both Nvidia and AMD have struggled with in the past, and neither company seems to be that keen on the technology these days, what with the tricky problems encountered in getting two (or more) GPUs to work seamlessly together without major issues and inefficiencies.
But we’ve heard before that multi-GPU is something Intel is seriously pushing with, and more specifically an implementation which actually works to properly scale the power of two graphics cards.
And that makes sense in some ways because if Intel’s initial graphics card struggles to compete directly on power with Nvidia or AMD to begin with – not an unimaginable scenario – then another route of attack would be the ability to double up with a second GPU.
That would potentially make for a less painful upgrade path for consumers, too: buy one Intel Xe graphics card to begin with, then buy another one to further power up your rig down the line, splitting the cost and making it seem more palatable over time.
Of course, these developments – if they happen at all – may be much further away than we might hope for. And indeed as we reported recently, it is possible Intel’s first Xe graphics card – allegedly arriving mid-2020 – might be aimed at the data center rather than consumers or gamers.
As ever, we’ll have to see how all this pans out, but at the moment, all the rumors floating around are certainly pointing to Intel having a broader focus on multi-GPU as something it can capitalize on, and a potential advantage against AMD and Nvidia.