Intel has been working for years to enter the high-end graphics card market to compete with Nvidia and AMD, and today those efforts are getting a name: Intel Arc (not to be confused with Intel Ark, the site you go to when you need help ) with the unreadable Intel processor model numbers). The earliest Arc products will be released in “Q1 2022” and will be based on a GPU codenamed “Alchemist”, a new, more memorable codename for a GPU previously known as “DG2”.
The first Arc cards will be sort of a follow-up to DG1 – a card released only for system builders – that looks a lot like the GDDR5 version of Nvidia’s aging, low-end GeForce GTX 1030. We don’t have spec sheets for any of the cards yet. Alchemist-based Arc cards, but Intel’s trailer showed confirmed support for modern GPU features like real-time ray tracing and “AI Accelerated Super Sampling” that will compete with Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX upscaling technologies. The trailer also showed Arc silicon with real (albeit somewhat older) games like Forza Horizon 4 and Metro Exodus†
To demonstrate its commitment to the discrete GPU market, Intel has announced several more GPU codenames that will succeed Alchemist in the coming years, including “Battlemage”, “Celestial” and “Druid” (note both the alphabetical order and the high fantasy theme).
Arc will represent Intel’s first serious run in the gaming GPU market, but the company isn’t starting from scratch. The company has decades of experience writing and updating graphics drivers, and has a habit of releasing both “stable” driver packages and beta drivers with enhancements for specific games, much like AMD and Nvidia already do. And while it doesn’t blow the doors of AMD’s integrated GPUs in its Ryzen APUs, the Intel Iris Xe graphics in 11th-gen Core laptops can run many games at 1080p or 720p.
We don’t know anything about the performance, pricing or availability of Arc cards yet, but if the current GPU shortage extends into early 2022, it presents a unique opportunity for Intel gamers desperate for each a reasonably competent GPU will be more likely to take a gamble on an Intel card than it would otherwise. Even relatively lackluster cards like Nvidia’s RTX 3060 and AMD’s 6600 XT sold out quickly in today’s market, so as long as Alchemist doesn’t set your computer on fire, it has a reasonable chance of success.