Intel is ready to venture into the discrete GPU market after sticking to largely mobile releases for ages, and everyone is intrigued to see what the company can do. While there exist many sceptics of Intel who don’t think the blue team can breed innovation anymore, and that they can’t strike the perfect balance between price and performance, especially on their first try. On the other hand, almost every leak and report has pointed to how Intel might just hit the nail on the head with Arc Alchemist.
We currently know almost everything about Alchemist, including the various different SKUs and price points the lineup is going to target. However, the release is still a bit cloudy. Intel understandably wants to not rush the product as first impressions are everything, so they want their first outing to come off as mature from the get-go. The company announced a while back that they’re targeting a Q1 2022 release, and recently reiterated this sentiment. But, we haven’t had an actual update from Intel in a while, so the release is still hanging in the air.
However, a report today from Board Channels (via ITHome) has leaked that Intel is currently eyeing a March 2022 release for their Arc Alchemist GPUs. Originally, this date was speculated to be a bit earlier, towards the start of the Q1 2022 but it seems that perhaps the release has been slighly pushed forward. The leak also says that AIBs have already received the GPUs for “debugging”, so they can test and accommodate them with appropriate coolers ahead of release.
Furthermore, putting all leaked variants aside; Intel is purportedly debuting Arc with two core series: 512 units and 384 units—both based on the DG2-512 GPU. The top-end DG2-512 GPU is called “SOC 1” and features a full die with 4096cores, a 256-bit bus interface, and up to 16 GB GDDR6 memory at 16-18 Gbps clock speed. That’s only one variant of SOC 1, the flagship one that’s supposed to compete with the RTX 3070 Ti.
There are two other versions as well, a cut-down version of the full-fat 512 execution units die, with 384 EUs instead, called DG2-384EU. This variant is said to 3072cores, a 192-bit interface, and up to 12 GB of GDDR6 memory running at 14-16 Gbps. And, lastly, a laptop version with 256 EUs, called DG2-256EU. This is an even further cut down version of the DG2-512EU die, with only 2048 cores and 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM.
DG2-384EU will offer performance comparable to that of the RTX 3060 Ti, while DG2-128EU will compete with the mobile RTX 3060. Once again, it’s important to remember all of these are based on the same DG2-512 die, with one SKU utilizing the full die and the other two being cut-down versions. Another thing to note is that while we only have info on the mobile version of 256EU GPU, there will seemingly be a desktop version of this card as well. Similarly, there will be mobile versions of the 512EU and 384EU graphics cards going forward, too.
Out of these three GPUs, the leak suggests that Intel will debut with the 512EU and 384EU SKUs first with budget offerings following the initial release, and mobile GPUs coming at the end of the year. The 512EU SKU will obviously be the flagship and will have a 275W TDP, with board partners maybe pushing that to 300W. The 384EU will have 150-200W TDP, instead. Intel will price these two cards aggressively to give themselves the best chance of outshining the competition.
While the leak doesn’t mention this, there is another Alchemist GPU, the DG2-128. This is an entirely different die from SOC 1 and is instead called “SOC 2“. Currently, we expect three different SKUs to launch with this die. One will be the full-fat version, utilizing the entire die and featuring 1024 cores, and a 96-bit interface, another will have the same core count but a 64-bit bus with 6 GB of GDDR6 memory, 4 GB for the laptop version which counts as the second SKU. The third SKU is the cut-down version which will reduce the execution units from 128 to just 96, and will only see a mobile release.
All of these SKUs will have a TDP of below 75W which means no external power connectors required as the PCIe slot on your motherboard will be enough to provide the required power. Expect GTX 1650 Super-level performance but with ray tracing capabilities as all Arc SKUs support hardware-accelerated ray tracing. There’s also XeSS on top of that which will help give your frames a little boost, something that would be vital in this entry-level segment.
Speaking of which, Intel will be gaining an edge here by targeting, potentially, the sub-$250 market which has been all but abandoned by AMD and NVIDIA in favor $300+ segments. Mid-range is the new entry-level for them, apparently. By offering true next-gen entry level solutions to games, Intel will carve their own niche in a dying segment, which will help them find a firm and quick footing in this industry.
Intel is expected to make this info official at their CES 2022 press conference where they’ll announce a concrete release date for Arc Alchemist. However, it remains unlikely that they will actually unveil all the detailed info there as Intel has quite the packed show already. They’ll be launching the new non-K Alder Lake desktop processors along with Alder Lake-P mobile CPUs on January 4th so Alchemist will have to share the stage. Regardless, it seems like the GPU industry is finally starting to heat up once again and the fact that Intel is the one pushing for competition this time is the a pleasant surprise.