Intel Arc Alchemist: Specs, Rumors, Release Date, and More

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Intel has given its upcoming gaming graphics playing cards a reputation: Intel Arc. The primary era of Arc Alchemist graphics playing cards is ready to reach in early 2022, and Intel confirmed that three future generations are already within the works. We’ve been ready a very long time to see what Intel has in retailer for avid gamers, and now, now we have a clearer, if nonetheless barely smudged, image of what’s arising.

Intel Arc is the model that Intel is utilizing for all gaming {hardware}, software program, and companies transferring ahead, and the corporate confirmed that it’s going to span a number of {hardware} generations. Right here’s every part we all know thus far about Intel Arc Alchemist, the discharge date, and the way the playing cards will carry out.

What’s Intel Arc?

Intel Arc is the branding that Intel is utilizing for “upcoming client high-performance graphics merchandise.” The identify encompasses a number of generations of graphics playing cards focused particularly at gaming, and also you shouldn’t confuse it with Intel Xe. Arc products — at least the ones we know about — use the Xe architecture, but not all Xe products live under Arc.

Intel Xe is the architecture for all of Intel’s recent graphics products, including the integrated graphics in Tiger Lake laptops and data center GPUs like Ponte Vecchio. Xe is a scalable architecture that Intel can shrink or expand in a single package to accommodate multiple different applications.

Intel Arc products are based on the Xe HPG. Intel is using this same architecture for mobile and desktop applications, starting with the first generation of Intel Arc cards.

With the naming out of the way, we can talk about the Intel Arc products we know about. The first-generation cards were formerly known as DG2, but they now have the code name Alchemist. Alchemist cards are the only ones we even remotely have information about at this point, so we’ll be focusing on those here.

Intel Arc chip concept.

Intel revealed the code names for upcoming generations, too: Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid. For these generations, all we know right now are the names. However, we know that Battlemage will follow Alchemist, Celestial will follow Battlemage, and so on.

Intel Arc Alchemist price and release date

Intel hasn’t revealed pricing information for Arc cards yet and only offered a vague hint at the release window. Keep in mind that Arc is the branding for all Xe HPG graphics products, so beyond this point, we’re talking about the upcoming generation of Arc cards — Alchemist.

For release, Intel says the first cards will arrive in the first few months of 2022. Information is sparse at this point, so there’s no saying when in that time frame the cards will release or how Intel will handle the rollout. It’s possible that Intel will release cards to system makers and laptop designers first, or everything could hit at once. We don’t know yet.

Concept art of an Intel DG2 graphics card.

Previously, rumors suggested that Intel would release the cards at CES 2022. That event happens in January, so it’s possible that Intel will launch the cards then, with general availability following shortly after.

Unfortunately, we know even less about pricing. We’re purely speculating, but if rumors are to be believed, the flagship card should cost around $600. That’s in between the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, which it looks like the top card is targeting. Intel isn’t a stranger to abnormally high prices, however, so it could be higher.

Some rumors suggest Intel is targeting an aggressive price to steal some gamers from Nvidia and AMD. We still don’t know how aggressive Intel is willing to be, though, and the GPU shortage has driven up the cost of components. Intel’s cards could be more expensive purely because the cost to make them is higher.

A recent giveaway provided some hints at how much the cards could cost. Using the approximate value of the prizes and subtracting the other bits, Tom’s Hardware concluded that the flagship card could cost around $700 to $800. It’s possible these listed values are wrong, or that Intel plans to sell the cards at a loss.

Moore’s Law is Dead says that some cards will target a sub-$200 price point, with the lowest model in the range clocking in around $150. This is just a rumor right now, though. We still don’t have any word on pricing.

Intel hasn’t announced what partners it’s working with for Arc Alchemist graphics cards. However, speculation by other outlets points to Gigabyte, Asus, and MSI as possible partners. Given Intel’s history of working with motherboard makers for its CPU launches, these partners are possible, if not likely.

Although the cards are coming soon, they’ll still be difficult to find. Intel has said it may not have enough supply to meet demand and that it won’t be imposing a cryptocurrency mining limiter like the ones found on Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards.

Intel Arc Alchemist specs

Intel gave us a deeper look at the Xe HPG architecture powering Alchemist cards at Architecture Day 2021. However, the company still didn’t announce or confirm any specs. So far, we know that the flagship card will feature 512 execution units across 32 Xe Cores. Otherwise, we have to rely on rumors and speculation for the the time being.

GPU Execution units Shading units Memory Memory bus
Intel Arc Alchemist a170 or a700 DG2-512EU 512 4,096 16GB GDDR6 256-bit
Intel Arc Alchemist a150 or a500 DG2-384EU 384 3,072 12GB GDDR6 192-bit
Intel Arc Alchemist a130 or a300 DG2-128EU 128 1,024 8GB or 4GB GDDR6 96-bit

The specs above haven’t been confirmed by Intel. They’re the product of rumors, leaks, and speculation, so they’re subject to change. The names haven’t been confirmed, either. We’ve seen a leak about branding, but the card names are still subject to change.

Originally, rumors suggested Intel would launch five Arc Alchemist models, though the most recent rumors point to only three models at launch. The others may be for mobile configurations, but we don’t have any word about mobile Arc Alchemist implementations at this point.

Based on the specs, the flagship unit looks fit to compete with Nvidia’s Ampere and AMD’s RDNA 2 ranges. It comes with 512 EUs for a total of 4,096 cores, as well as up to 16GB of GDDR6 memory. Both 16GB and 8GB models have been rumored, though it’s possible the slimmer version is being reserved for laptops.

Otherwise, the cards step down similar to AMD and Nvidia. The 384 EU model looks like it will compete with the AMD RX 6700 XT with 12GB of memory, though rumors suggest that the card will perform closer to the RTX 3060. This points out one of the big problems with comparing GPU specs — oftentimes, it doesn’t say much about performance.

The bottom card could come with either 8GB or 4GB of memory, though it’s not clear right now. It’s the lowest-end card of the range, targeting the performance of a GTX 1650 Super, according to rumors. The killer for this card looks to be the 96-bit memory bus, which will choke the card regardless of the memory configuration it ships with.

Intel Arc performance

Intel hasn’t revealed any performance numbers for Arc cards yet. However, the first-generation Alchemist cards look capable of running a good chunk of recent AAA video games, hopefully at playable frame rates. Following the announcement, Intel released a montage of gameplay footage captured on preproduction silicon.

👀 A sneak peek of gameplay captured on #IntelArc Pre-production Silicon! https://t.co/kRTpUg5EcG pic.twitter.com/CxORT8djLZ

— Intel Gaming (@IntelGaming) August 16, 2021

The video reveals the Crysis Remastered trilogy, Forza Horizon 5, Days Gone, and Metro Exodus, amongst different titles. Crysis Remastered and Metro Exodus, particularly, are pretty demanding. That’s a very good signal for Intel’s first foray into gaming graphics playing cards, but it surely’s vital to reiterate that we don’t have any efficiency numbers right now.

A benchmark leak from August confirmed a DG2 card (now often known as Alchemist) reaching speeds of as much as 2,200MHz, which is quicker than most playing cards from AMD and Nvidia. That doesn’t imply the cardboard is quicker than its competitors, simply that Intel is ready to drive its silicon tougher.

One other leak from April confirmed some efficiency data. The leak confirmed the flagship mannequin performing about in addition to the Nvidia RTX 3080 and AMD RX 6800 XT. In 3DMark TimeSpy, the leaker claimed outcomes may even rival Nvidia’s $1,500 RTX 3090.

At this level, that sort of efficiency looks like wishful pondering. A Geekbench leak of a cellular configuration confirmed Arc Alchemist underperforming in comparison with Intel’s personal UHD 750 graphics. That’s simply as unlikely as the highest card performing close to an RTX 3090, but it surely’s vital to think about each forward of launch.

The newest rumors recommend that the flagship card will fall between an RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti, which appears extra affordable. The subsequent step down ought to carry out between an RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti, whereas the bottom card may match the GTX 1650 Tremendous. It’s vital to attend for actual testing, although. We’re dealing purely in rumors and hypothesis by way of efficiency proper now.

Intel launched a trailer for Arc Alchemist throughout The Sport Awards 2021. The trailer doesn’t say something new in regards to the playing cards or reveal efficiency, but it surely reveals off various video games run on Arc Alchemist {hardware}.

We’ve extra concrete details about overclocking, although. Intel has confirmed that Arc drivers will characteristic a built-in overclocking utility, permitting you to push the clock speeds previous their rated spec. We don’t know what the overclocking device will appear to be, however we hope it matches as much as the choices from AMD and Nvidia.

In an interview with Devices 360, Intel mentioned it’s exploring a number of options for its drivers. The drivers will line up with main sport releases, and the corporate is wanting into options like gaming recording and streaming. That mentioned, these options might not be out there when the playing cards launch.

Actual-time ray tracing and Intel XeSS

Ray tracing in Dirt 5.

As we’ll get to within the subsequent part, every core within the Xe HPG design will get its personal devoted ray-tracing unit. At Structure Day 2021, Intel confirmed that its upcoming Alchemist playing cards will assist DirectX 12 and Vulkan ray tracing at launch, which compromise the overwhelming majority of titles that assist ray tracing out there immediately.

Ray-tracing cores aren’t all constructed equally, nevertheless. At present, Nvidia makes use of devoted ray-tracing cores, whereas AMD packs a “ray accelerator” into every compute unit. The tip result’s vastly higher ray-tracing efficiency on Nvidia graphics playing cards in comparison with AMD, as you possibly can see in our evaluation of the AMD RX 6600 XT.

Intel seems to be to be taking an analogous method to Nvidia, suggesting respectable ray tracing efficiency on the upcoming vary. It’s too quickly to say, nevertheless. Given how new ray tracing is for gaming and the {hardware} it requires, Intel’s implementation might not be excellent at launch.

Alongside ray tracing, the playing cards will include Intel XeSS. That is a man-made intelligence (A.I.)-assisted supersampling characteristic that works equally to Nvidia’s Deep Studying Tremendous Sampling (DLSS). Intel makes use of a neural community to coach a mannequin, then makes use of devoted cores on the graphics card to carry out the upscaling.

In apply, XeSS could be similar to DLSS. Intel lately introduced that it employed the one that helped create DLSS at Nvidia, so the 2 options will probably look related. Intel says XeSS can scale from 1080p as much as 4K with no noticeable high quality loss and that it affords as much as a 2x body fee enchancment over native rendering. That’s thrilling, however we’ll have to attend to see how XeSS stacks up when it launches.

Intel XeSS quality comparison.

Though related, XeSS isn’t the identical as DLSS. It appears Intel took some notes from rival AMD and its FidelityFX Tremendous Decision (FSR) upscaling tech. Like FSR, XeSS works throughout a variety of {hardware}, not simply Intel graphics playing cards. To realize broad assist and A.I. upscaling, Intel developed two software program improvement kits (SDKs).

The primary makes use of devoted cores on Intel graphics playing cards, just like how DLSS makes use of Tensor cores on Nvidia RTX playing cards. That is the total, fats XeSS expertise, and Intel says builders can begin implementing it in late August.

One other SDK makes use of DP4a instruction, which is utilized in A.I. purposes on latest Nvidia graphics playing cards and up to date Intel built-in graphics. Intel says this model has some high quality and efficiency variations in comparison with the conventional model of XeSS. Nonetheless, it opens up a lot wider assist for different {hardware}, which is nice to see. This SDK is coming in 2021, however Intel hasn’t mentioned when.

For sport assist, the one title Intel has introduced is The Rift Breaker. We’ll hopefully hear extra about Arc Alchemist and XeSS at CES 2022.

As for the way XeSS, DLSS, and FSR stack up, we’ll simply have to attend and see. There are just a few key issues Intel must do to make XeSS profitable, and there’s nonetheless so much we don’t know in regards to the characteristic.

Xe HPG structure

Intel Xe HPG render slice model.

The entire at present introduced Intel Arc graphics playing cards will use the Xe HPG structure or a model of it. Intel introduced that it has three future variations within the works: Xe2 HPG, Xe3 HPG, and Xe Subsequent. These will present up on the second, third, and fourth era of Intel Arc playing cards, respectively.

Sadly, we don’t know something about these architectures proper now. Nonetheless, now we have the code names for the upcoming generations: Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid.

The primary-generation Alchemist playing cards are being constructed on chipmaker TSMC’s N6 node, which is a revision of the N7 node used on AMD RX 6000 graphics playing cards. Intel has already offered a full deep dive of the Xe HPG structure, so now we have a good suggestion about the way it works forward of launch.

The premise of Xe HPG is an Xe Core, which options 16 vector models and 16 Xe Matrix Execution (XMX) models, together with an L1 cache. Intel combines 4 of those Xe Cores right into a render slice and provides a shared L2 cache between them, in addition to devoted ray-tracing cores for every Xe Core. These slices are what’s going to separate the varied Arc Alchemist playing cards.

Intel says it could actually add as much as eight slices to a graphics card, totaling 32 Xe Cores and 512 XMX and vector models. We don’t know the way future architectures will work, however Intel says that Xe HPG is a scalable structure. Sooner or later, we’ll probably see smaller, extra environment friendly processes alongside extra render slices on a card.

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