Multi-chiplet tiled design gives Intel a lot of freedom regarding transistor count, performance, and features for its upcoming CPUs. Intel aims to enhance general-purpose and graphics performance with its codenamed Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake processors due in 2023 and 2024. Apparently, equipping its CPUs with monstrous integrated GPUs (iGPUs) is in Intel's master plan. Within two years, Intel is rumored to at least quadruple the performance of its iGPUs.
Intel has consistently increased the iGPU performance of its processors for several years now. The company's Ivy Bridge chips arrived ten years ago, featuring an iGPU with up to 16 execution units (EUs). However, Intel's highest-performing Tiger Lake (and Alder Lake) processors feature a considerably more advanced Xe iGPU with up to 96 EUs. Intel does not integrate bigger iGPUs into its processors today because of large die sizes, which sometimes mean high development costs, high production costs, and potentially poor yields. Intel will reduce die sizes of individual components with tiled designs, which will lower development costs and theoretically ensure decent yields.
As reported, Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake processors will place their iGPUs on a separate tile produced by TSMC using its N3 fabrication process, which provides some additional design flexibility. With Arrow Lake, Intel is rumored to equip its iGPU with either 320 EUs or 384 EUs (which corresponds to 2560 – 3072 stream processors, assuming that Intel’s architecture will not be completely revamped in two years), depending on whether the information comes from AdoredTV (opens in new tab) (320 EUs) or another source (opens in new tab) who claims that Intel’s plans are now bolder and include an iGPU with 384 EUs.
At this point, it is hard to say who is right and who is wrong since Intel's plans are not public (and Intel does not comment on unreleased products). However, it is evident that at least two sources claim that Intel plans to dramatically increase the performance of its iGPUs. Furthermore, such an increase would be consistent with Intel's multi-year integrated graphics strategy. Still, considering the fact that the plans are not official, they could change.
Radically increasing the performance of its integrated GPUs will give Intel's highly-integrated Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake processors an edge over entry-level discrete offerings by AMD and Nvidia. As a result, this move could allow the chip giant to increase its per-CPU prices. Furthermore, these upcoming CPUs will be more competitive against Apple's forthcoming M-series system-on-chips for MacBook Pro laptops that feature high-end integrated GPUs.
Making graphics tiles of Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake CPUs using TSMC's N3 node (or N3E node given its improved process window) will enable Intel to learn how to design GPUs using this manufacturing technology. Therefore, it could transit its standalone graphics processor to this fabrication process fairly quickly, which will provide the company a strategic advantage over rivals.
Another advantage of Intel's usage of TSMC's N3/N3E for graphics will be offering high-performance iGPUs to address market segments currently dominated by cheap discrete GPUs like AMD's Navi 24 or Nvidia's GA107/GP107/GP108.