New evidence of Intel's multi-GPU support for upcoming Xe discrete cards uncovered in Linux drivers
Apart from the 2020 release and the fact that there will not be any ray tracing support, at least with the first generation, Intel’s Xe discrete gaming GPUs are still shrouded in mystery. It looks like Intel is doing a great job at keeping everything under wraps, as no major specs or price point info got leaked. This did not stop sites like Phoronix from digging deeper for clues, hints or any sort of inkling regarding the Intel Xe features.
Churning through the latest Linux graphics drivers, the guys over at Phoronix spotted some more references to hybrid GPU setups.The first clues regarding multi-GPU support were uncovered back in August, and the latest Linux driver essentially reinforces this through a perf PMU (Processor Monitoring Unit) that is supposed to handle an iGPU + discrete card use-case.
It is not entirely clear if Intel plans to implement this feature for multiple discrete cards. We could see an alternative to AMD’s CrossFire and Nvidia’s SLI technologies, but multi-GPU setups are not really that trendy anymore, since AMD decided to slash CrossFire support from the latest generation, while Nvidia reduced the SLI support from up to 4 cards down to a maximum of 2.
This feature was at one point supported on some Sandy Bridge Refresh platforms back in 2012. It allowed an Intel iGPU to be paired with a discrete card from Nvidia or AMD, thus providing additional power, but the drivers were quite buggy with minimal performance gains and Intel eventually dropped support in subsequent generations. Nevertheless, iGPUs have come a long way since then, and an iGPU + discrete card configuration nowadays could be able to make quite a difference performance-wise.