(Photo: Intel)It’s been a long and winding road for Intel’s return to the discrete GPU market. It seems like it was first announced in a different era, and since then a lot has changed. Along the way Intel has run into several delays, generating confusion about what was launching, and when. The mist seems to be clearing though, and Intel has now stated its high performance GPUs are launching soon. Or at the very least, they will be in reviewers’ hands in the near future.
As a refresher, Intel stated in May that the Arc GPU launch would be delayed to “later this summer.” It announced it was doing a “staggered” launch that would start in China, then eventually make its way to the US. Six weeks later, the first Arc GPU launched, again, in China. However, in addition to the staggered launch it became clear Intel was also starting at the bottom of the stack, then working its way up to the top cards.
The first card to launch, was an entry-level $150 GPU with just 4GB of memory. In other words, it’s not a GPU enthusiasts care about. What we’re more interested in is the good stuff; the upper-midrange A750, and the high-end A770. Those cards are supposed to be able to take on the Nvidia RTX 3060 and 3070, or AMD’s 6600 and 6700. Also, as an aside, it was previously rumored there would be a binned flagship GPU named the A780. However, Arc PR rep Ryan Shrout recently shot that rumor down on Twitter.
Now, Intel is getting close to actually sending its high-end cards to reviewers. We all know that when that happens, retail availability can’t be too far behind. The company confirmed the proximity of the launch recently on its Discord channel. It alerted Arc fans that it’s “started the ramp” to a full desktop launch. Here’s the message Intel posted:
“This has been a long road for all of you. While there have been delays with the eventual launch of Intel Arc graphics for desktop, we want to be clear that this launch is getting closer… All of us are very excited to finally deliver on the Xe HPG Scavenger Hunt prizes this summer as the product is starting to come together… Bottom line, the launch of the Intel Arc A7 series desktop products and the prizes intended for this contest are now in sight!”
In advance of the launch the company sent its reps out to make the rounds on YouTube. They appeared on both Linus Tech Tips and Gamers Nexus recently; both popular channels for the technically inclined. The media tour followed the unveiling of the first official benchmarks for the A750 last week. Oddly, Intel’s blog post originally included a video of Ryan Shrout playing Cyberpunk 2077. Now however, the video is marked as private for some reason. Update: Intel said it took the video down for a “necessary update,” but a new version will be posted soon.
One interesting highlight in Linus’ video is it shows the A770 running Shadow of the Tomb Raider on two systems. Both have the same specs, but one is running DirectX 11 and the other uses DirectX 12. Though a performance delta is expected, in this case the difference is drastic. The DX11 machine can be seen running at 39 FPS, while the DX12 system is double that, at 80 FPS. The Nvidia reps said this is on purpose, as Intel is focusing on the future with Arc. Instead of optimizing its hardware for older APIs like DX11, it’s solely focused on DX12 and Vulkan. This will likely be a problem for a lot of gamers, as Linus points out only three of the top ten games on Steam support DX12.
Further, Intel’s Tom Peterson states Intel plans to “kill everyone in price to performance” in “tier one” games. He says those are the games shown in the chart above, which includes Fortnite, Cyberpunk, etc. Obviously, that is a large volume of trash talk, but hopefully Intel will back it up. Also, pricing for Arc was also leaked, but Wccftech doesn’t say what its source is, so be cautious.
Still, it looks like Intel is aiming to compete on price and performance at 1440p. It certainly doesn’t have an answer for the RTX 3090 Ti and RX 6950 XT, but Intel doesn’t seem to be focusing on that niche just yet. Perhaps what will come with the next iteration of Arc, code-named Battlemage. Either way, we’re excited to finally get a chance to see what Intel has been cooking for all this time. Heaven knows it’ll be launching in a radically different environment than what existed a few months ago. And with AMD and Nvidia priming their next-gen GPUs for launch, it’s going to be an interesting fall in the GPU space, that is for certain.