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Iris Xe Max Graphics: The Beefy Tiger Lake iGPU Intel May Be Hiding

(Image credit: Intel)

There's an unannounced Iris Xe Max iGPU in Intel's "A Wonderful New Look" promotional YouTube video, as spotted by PC World. Although a specific time frame wasn't given, an Intel representative confirmed to the publication that Intel will release more details on Iris Xe Max in the future.

Presently, Intel has listed 10 Tiger Lake mobile CPUs in its ARK database, whereby three of them are just variants that come without the Image Processing Unit (IPU). The 11th Generation chips utilize the Xe LP graphics engine. The chipmaker puts the faster Iris Xe-branded units in the higher-up models, the Core i5 and Core i7, while leaving the cut-down UHD Graphics solutions for the Core i3. This has been the common practice for Intel. Intel's 10th Gen Ice Lake mobile chips also uses different iGPUs (Iris Plus or UHD Graphics). 

For Tiger Lake, Intel retains the UHD Graphics moniker but has switched over to Iris Xe. The Iris Xe variants have more execution units (EUs) that are usually clocked higher, while the UHD Graphics variants are left with less EUs at lower clock speeds.

The Core i7-1185G7 is the current flagship processor for Intel's 10nm SuperFin-manufactured Tiger Lake family. We say "current" because the sudden emergence of the Iris Xe Max logo suggests that more powerful Tiger Lake chips might be on the horizon. For the time being, the Core i7-1185G7 is the highest clocked part in both the processing and graphics departments.

Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake Specifications

ProcessorCores / ThreadsBase / Boost Clocks (GHz)Cache (MB)GraphicsExecution UnitsGraphics Max Frequency (GHz)TDP (W)
Core i7-1185G74 / 83.0 / 4.812Iris Xe961.3512 - 28
Core i7-1165G7*4 / 82.8 / 4.712Iris Xe961.3012 - 28
Core i7-1160G74 / 82.1 / 4.412Iris Xe961.107 - 15
Core i5-1135G7*4 / 82.4 / 4.28Iris Xe801.3012 - 28
Core i5-1130G74 / 81.8 / 4.08Iris Xe801.107 - 15
Core i3-1115G4*2 / 43.0 / 4.16UHD Graphics481.2512 - 28
Core i3-1110G42 / 42.5 / 3.96UHD Graphics481.107 - 15

*Available without IPU.

The Core i7-1185G7 comes equipped with four Willow Cove CPU cores that operate with a 3 GHz base clock speed and 4.8 GHz boost clock. The Xe LP iGPU inside the quad-core processor has 96 EUs that feature a maximum graphics frequency peaking at 1.35 GHz. 

The Core i7-1185G7's iGPU specifications are pretty surprising. The iGPU had previously surfaced with a 1.55 GHz boost clock speed, which we know now was overclocked. Furthermore, an Iris Xe iGPU with 96 EUs and hitting 1.65 GHz was recently reportedly discovered by hardware detective @TUM_APISAK.

Tiger Lake's Xe LP (Gen12) graphics span up to 96 EUs at 1.35 GHz. The configuration is a tremendous jump up from Ice Lake's Gen11 solution that was limited to 64 EUs at 1.1 GHz. However, the overclocked benchmark submission show that Gen12 surely still has a lot left in its tank. The recent sighting of the Iris Xe Max suggests that Intel knows that too.

The other possibility is that Intel is preparing the Iris Xe Max for the Tiger Lake-H parts. The chipmaker has already confirmed that Tiger Lake-H processors will top out at eight cores. The problem is that Intel will have to cut down the number of EUs to make room for the extra core, meaning the iGPU could have less than 96 EUs. It wouldn't make sense to market it as the Iris Xe Max though if it's less powerful than the one current Tiger Lake offerings.

  • TCA_ChinChin
    Actually excited about Intel integrated graphics for once. Hopefully they don't only show up in the highest end models. Maybe they'll make it so that price to performance on their lower end SKUs compete well with AMD too.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    Actually excited about Intel integrated graphics for once. Hopefully they don't only show up in the highest end models. Maybe they'll make it so that price to performance on their lower end SKUs compete well with AMD too.
    I never understood why Intel always shuffled Iris into CPUs that were usually paired up with a discrete GPU anyway.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    hotaru.hino said:
    I never understood why Intel always shuffled Iris into CPUs that were usually paired up with a discrete GPU anyway.

    Mostly power savings. The iGPU uses less power than the dGPU so in 2D situations having the dGPU turned off or in a low power state gives for better battery life for normal tasks.

    With this new iGPU though they might be able to remove the dGPU from more models which will allow for lighter, thiner and more power light designs in laptops.

    I actually hope this starts a new iGPU war and we see iGPUs start to perform much better than before.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    jimmysmitty said:
    Mostly power savings. The iGPU uses less power than the dGPU so in 2D situations having the dGPU turned off or in a low power state gives for better battery life for normal tasks.
    I get that idea for laptop designs in general, but I've seen situations where a lower-end CPU, like an i3 or a U series processor, is paired up with a potato GPU like an MX130 or MX150. I feel like the GPU is just there to make the laptop more appealing for the uninitiated because "if it has a dGPU, surely it must be good!"
    Reply