Intel’s long-awaited discrete graphics targeting gaming and content creation finally gets christened Monday with a family name, Intel Arc — a play on the concept of a story arc and architecture. Formerly known as “DG2,” and based on the HPG variant of the company’s latest generation of its GPU designs, the first chips based on its Intel Xe HPG architecture bear the new codename “Alchemist.” Intel plans to release more details by this end of the year and to begin shipping Alchemist products by the end of March 2022. Subsequent generations also get codenames as well: Battlemage, Celestial and Druid.
We know little from the announcement other than those tidbits and that it will support all Windows DirectX 12 Ultimate features, and incorporate ray-tracing acceleration and AI-based supersampling for antialiasing (optimal edge smoothing). At this point, those three are essentials to compete for gaming dollars. Intel offers a video of some of the features in action, though it’s not particularly informative.
The desktop and console discrete GPU market, which some might consider a duopoly, will be a hard nut to crack after all these years. Nvidia dominates on the PC, with AMD occupying a sliver of PCs and owning the graphics in major consoles such as the Xbox Series X and Series S, PS5 and more. Simply delivering competitive performance may not be enough.
But Intel’s dominance in desktop and laptop CPUs and chipsets may give it a leg up if Intel can play better with its own CPUs’ integrated graphics than Nvidia — especially when it comes to on-the-fly switching between the two for optimal power consumption and maximizing bandwidth between the central and graphics processing subsystems — as AMD does with its own processors.
Given the current state of the GPU market and shortages of many types of chips that’s expected to last at least through the end of 2021 — it’s still nearly impossible to buy a graphics card for your PC and impossible to get one at a realistic price — it makes sense for Intel to not try to rush it out for this year.
But it doesn’t want to be left out of the fun until then. So it’s offering logo t-shirts (though the kind of designs companies create for employees to wear to tradeshows, not for fans)… that won’t ship until Sept. 3 at the earliest.