Sunday, December 3, 2023

Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs are running out of time to launch

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A new report reveals that Intel Arc Alchemist desktop graphics cards may be delayed again, possibly even until the end of summer 2022.

If the rumor proves to be true, this spells bad news for Intel, as both AMD and Nvidia are ready to release upcoming GPUs around that time.

A long way

It has been a long, winding and rocky road for Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs in their desktop versions. Initially, we expected to see them launch in 2021, but they were first pushed back to the second quarter of 2022 and then to summer 2022.

Now, it seems that Intel may not be able to make that deadline either, like Igor’s Laboratory reports that the launch window can be anywhere between July 1, 2022 and August 31, 2022. This may put the desktop version of Arc Alchemist close to a late summer release. We heard similar rumors last month, and according to Igor’s Lab, today’s report comes from several anonymous sources, so it sounds pretty realistic. Once the cards finally come to market, we can expect at least seven new models.

Why might Intel postpone Arc Alchemist for desktops again? There could be several reasons, but as Igor’s Lab speculates, hardware probably won’t be the cause. If there were any problems with the hardware, we would probably look at an even bigger delay. Intel may have driver problems, and since even the best GPU will struggle without the right driver, it makes sense for Intel to delay things until everything is sorted out.

Some of the issues may not even be directly related to Intel. The company may have issues with issues such as partner card development, aftermarket support, or game integration. Intel has a lot of experience in publishing new products, but discrete graphics cards come first, so these things need to be built from the bottom up.

It certainly makes sense for Intel to try to fix everything the first time. To say that it is entering a saturated market is a bit of an overestimation right now (thank you, GPU failure), but certainly it is entering a market that is dominated by two giants for a long, long time. In order for gamers to choose Intel Arc Alchemist over Nvidia or AMD, the former must be very competitive in terms of efficiency or price.

Intel Arc Alchemist laptop with the Arc logo displayed.

Intel has only a few months left to compete with AMD and Nvidia

Here it becomes even more rock-solid for Intel Arc – we already know that its performance will not be a threat to the high-end sector of Nvidia or AMD. Its performance has often been compared to that of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070, which is a great card in itself, but many gamers may want to get something with a little more strength. However, it could very well shake things up in the mid-range, especially if Intel is able to redo the price and sell its new graphics cards at an affordable price.

For Intel Arc Alchemist to succeed, the release date is becoming more and more crucial. Nvidia is working on its upcoming Ada Lovelace (RTX 4000 series) graphics cards, and AMD isn’t slowing down either – it’s scheduled to release its RDNA 3 GPUs this year.

With Team Green and Team Red ready to launch new generations of graphics cards this year, Intel is simply running out of time to capture much of the news cycle. Assuming Arc Alchemist launches around the same time as Nvidia RTX 4000 and AMD RDNA 3, Intel may struggle to increase the popularity for its new product.

This is only compounded by the fact that while Intel Arc will definitely have a lot to offer, it will be shorter compared to newer graphics cards. If it can target the midrange sector in this generation, it may only be comparable to entry-to-mid GPUs in the next. As such, Intel only has a few months left if it really wants to emerge with its new GPUs.

Intel successfully launched the mobile version of Arc Alchemist in late March this year. Even that was a big step due to the months of delays and the fact that Arc Alchemist is marking Intel’s entry into the discrete GPU market. However, the mobile lineup was very modest to begin with, including only three Arc cards, all fairly entry-level.

We’re still waiting for these GPUs to really make it to laptops because the availability is more than low. What is perhaps worse is that the little that can be found is quite expensive.

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