Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs Reportedly Arriving In May-ish

Gaming
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The upcoming launch of Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs seems to have turned into something of a soap opera as of late with unexplained delays and not much information on the company’s launch schedule. At CES the company announced the launch would be happening in Q1. A few weeks later, it delayed the launch to Q2. It now appears there’s a glimmer of light on the horizon. Recent reporting concludes the first batch of Arc GPUs are indeed coming soon, possibly between May and June of 2022.

According to Igor’s Lab, Intel suffered a setback that delayed bringing high performance variants of its Arc GPUs (codenamed Alchemist) to market. Though there’s no official verdict on what has caused the delays, Igor writes that he suspects it’s related to software issues. He notes that his DG1 (an OEM-only card) has experienced many issues in testing with games.

Despite the setbacks, Igor reports that QS samples should complete validation in the coming weeks. Once they do, the designs will be cleared for volume manufacturing and assembly. Assuming that process is completed by the end of March, the timelines of units being ready to ship by the end of May sounds about right.

It’s also notable that today Intel announced its Intel Vision conference to discuss future plans and technologies, scheduled for May 10-11. It’s not clear what kind of volume will be ready by launch, but Intel has gone on the record previously stating it expects to sell four million Arc GPUs in 2022 alone. That figure seems inline with Intel’s claim that it plans to come to the rescue of gamers who have been trying to find a GPU in-stock for almost two years now with little success.

Intel’s Arc GPU roadmap. (Image: Intel)

At launch Intel is reportedly planning on offering three discrete DG2 models: the A300, A500, and A700 with 1024, 3072, and 4096 streaming processors, respectively. Early benchmarks of the A300 series have already cropped up online and they’re not exactly encouraging, with the caveat that they’re based on pre-release hardware and drivers. Intel is likely targeting gamers with low-end gamers who want a GPU at least modestly more powerful than DG1. Price is a big factor in this market segment, so it’s also possible Intel plans to compete on price and performance with other entry-level GPUs such as the Radeon RX 6500 XT.

The top-shelf part, the A700, has also been benchmarked as well, but the same caveats apply: It’s using pre-release everything. That said, in these early benchmarks, Intel’s GPU seems to be in the vicinity of an RTX 3070 in terms of compute performance. Compute performance can’t be used to predict game performance between GPU families, unfortunately. Intel is also planning on entering the ultra-enthusiast flagship market with its Celestial GPU. The company only recently began work on this chip, so it won’t be in-market until 2024 or later.

Intel’s journey into the GPU market has seemed like a roadtrip that never ends. We’ve been talking about it since August of 2021, and every time we think it’s “just around the corner” something happens to push things back a bit. Hopefully, this latest delay will be the final setback before Arc can successfully launch, but it’s also possible the company is grappling with driver issues as well. Just a few weeks ago Intel got into some hot water by promising a Day-0  driver for its DG1 GPU that was made for the popular game Elden Ring, which it failed to deliver due to, ” …a late breaking incompatibility in the game.” These things happen, but when you combine that with Igor’s gripes about the DG1’s many driver issues, it makes it seem like the company will be working overtime to deliver not only solid hardware but stable drivers as well.

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