Intel has been designing and producing graphics processors that come integrated with several models of its Intel Core consumer-oriented CPUs and Intel Xeon workstation CPUs. The current integrated GPUs from Intel are the Intel UHD Graphics and Intel Iris Xe. Some consumers might find these two sub-brands confusing. Several Core and Xeon processors feature either of the two. Intel Iris Xe is supposed to be the flagship and newer integrated GPU but even newer models of Intel Core processors and Intel Xeon processors come with an Intel UHD Graphics. This article explores the difference between Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD and weighs which one of these integrated GPU brands from Intel provides the best graphics processing capabilities.
Intel Iris Xe vs Intel UHD: What is the Difference Between the Two and Which One is Better?
The earlier Intel Extreme Graphics series and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator series were integrated onto the motherboard. This changed beginning in 2010 with the introduction of Intel Graphics Technology which includes a series of integrated graphics processors manufactured on the same package or die as the central processing units.
Intel HD Graphics was launched in 2010 alongside the first-generation Clarkdale Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, and Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPUs, and the Arrandale mobile Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron processors. It was renamed into Intel UHD Graphics in 2017 following the refreshed 7th-generation Kaby Lake Intel Core CPUs.
The names “Intel Iris” and “Intel Iris Pro” first appeared in several 4th-generation Haswell Intel Core processors that were introduced in 2013. Nevertheless, beginning this year, Intel CPUs come with either an Intel HD and the later UHD Graphics brands or the Intel Iris brand. The same is still true. There are two brands of integrated GPU used in Intel CPUs.
Intel Iris Xe was first introduced in 2020. It is based on a specific low-powered GPU microarchitecture called the Intel Xe-LP which is part of the newer Intel Xe family of GPU microarchitecture. Take note that this same Intel Xe architecture provides the foundation for the Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPUs and Intel Arc discrete GPUs.
Nevertheless, considering the aforementioned, the main difference between Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD Graphics is the graphics processing microarchitectures on which they are based and the specific use case considerations behind their development. The following are the further details about the difference between the two:
1. Graphics Processor Microarchitecture
Intel Iris Xe is based on a more modern Intel Xe GPU microarchitecture developed for modern graphics processing requirements. Remember that this same microarchitecture is the basis for other discrete Intel graphics processors such as the Intel Xe Max and Intel Arc. Intel UHD Graphics is based on several GPU microarchitectures tied to the CPU microarchitectures of Intel CPUs. Take note that the Intel UHD Graphics 710 found in several 13th-generation Raptor Lake Intel Core CPUs is based on the Raptor Lake GT1 microarchitecture.
2. Processing Capabilities and Performance
The different microarchitectures of Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD Graphics translate to a difference in performance. The former offers better performance than the latter. It has more powerful processing units and a higher number of execution units. This results in improved graphics rendering and faster frame rates in certain PC games and multimedia applications. The specific Iris Xe Graphics G7 scored 1598 and 1076 in 3DMark Time Spy and Unigine Superposition while the UHD Graphics scored 687 and 417 in the same benchmark tests.
3. Power Consumption and Heat Generation
Another difference between Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD Graphics centers on their power requirement and heat generation. The former tends to draw more power than the latter when running at its full capabilities because it has a higher maximum clock speed. The more powerful graphics processing capabilities of an integrated Iris Xe GPU also translate to more heat generation than the latter. This means that it might require better heat management or cooling systems to avoid overheating and prevent hardware damage.
4. Key Technologies and Notable Features
The respective technologies and features of Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD Graphics are also quite different. The former supports execution units of up to 96 while the latter only supports up to 32 execution units. Intel Iris Xe also has features called Endurance Gaming and XeSS super sampling that use artificial intelligence or deep learning to upscale the graphics quality. It can also support up to 4 HRD display monitors simultaneously. Intel UHD Graphics does not have these features and it only supports up to 3 standard display monitors.
Conclusion: Highlighting the Difference Between Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD Based on Graphics Processing Capabilities
Graphics processing capabilities spell the main difference between Intel Iris Xe and Intel UHD. The former is a newer and better integrated GPU from Intel. It is based on a newer microarchitecture that is designed for modern graphics-related workloads and applications. The latter is based on a different microarchitecture that is specifically developed for standard graphics processing requirements such as media acceleration for media consumption
Hence, in terms of capabilities, Intel Iris Xe is better suited for more graphics-intensive tasks such as video editing and some PC gaming than the Intel UHD Graphics. It is still important to note that both integrated graphics solutions from Intel remain capable of average use cases. Intel Iris Xe might be more powerful but it would not be enough when accomplishing more intensive workloads such as high-definition video rendering and triple-A PC gaming.