Intel will have at least three configurations of ARC Alchemist GPUs ready to launch in the first quarter of 2022. Custom versions of the cards could also be produced through partners such as MSI, ASUS and Gigabyte.
Intel is expected to introduce at least three desktop Alchemist SKUs with 512, 384, and 128 Execution Units. The 512EU model would use the entire die and offer comparable performance between NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3070 Ti graphics cards. Other sources are more cautious with their performance claims and expect arc GPU performance to sit between the RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti. However, performance estimates are still far from accurate, as Intel is still working on its own drivers and it is likely that their partners do not yet have access to fully functional drivers.
From Intel's roadmap we can learn that the new GPUs will have the following nomenclature:
- Alchemist: a-series graphics *a### (Xe HPG)
- Battlemage: b-series graphics *b### (Xe2 HPG)
- Celestial: c-series graphics *c### (Xe3 HPG)
- Druid: d-series graphics *d### (Xe Next Architecture)
The Xe-HPG-based Arc Alchemist GPU with 512EU would feature up to 16GB of GDDR6 memory with 16Gbps or 18Gbps. This SKU would be based on the DG2-512EU GPU that has already been shown by Intel which has also provided a rough estimate of the size of the die: 396 mm². The GPU would then be larger than AMD Navi 22 (335 mm²), but roughly the same size as NVIDIA GA104 (392 mm²). This board would feature 8+6pin power connectors and 225W TDP.
The 384 EU model would actually be a reduced variant of the 512EU GPU. The card should have an 8 GB GDDR6 memory and possibly a 256-bit memory bus.
The entry-level Arc Alchemist SKU with DG2-128EU GPU could compete with the GeForce GTX 1650 series, but with a lower TDP of 75W and up to 8GB of GDDR6 memory.
Custom models from partners
It hasn't been confirmed yet, but it would appear that Intel's hardware partners will offer custom models of the boards instead of limiting themselves to Intel's reference design. This is the same approach that AMD and NVIDIA take with their graphics cards: each launches its own models (NVIDIA calls them Founders Edition), while AIB partners can decide whether to stick to the reference designs or offer variants with custom cooling and overclocking.
The current market situation of video cards could be an incredible opportunity for Intel, which for years has been trying to enter the market of dedicated GPUs, in order to gain an important slice of users at the expense of NVIDIA and AMD. We just have to wait to see if Intel will be able to seize this chance and turn it into big profits.