Ahead of its investor meeting this afternoon, Intel announced that it would be shipping more than four million Arc Alchemist discrete GPUs this year, with discrete graphics cards landing as early as April.
The news was included in a press kit for the investor event (opens in new tab), and we expect that Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger or someone from Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group (AXG) will elaborate more on the news starting around 4:30PM EST.
"AXG expects to ship more than 4 million discrete GPUs in 2022," the press material reads. "OEMs are introducing notebooks with Intel Arc graphics, code-named Alchemist, for sale in the first quarter of 2022. Intel will ship add-in cards for desktops in the second quarter and workstations by the third quarter."
Intel also says that it has started architecture design work on Celestial, "a product that will address the ultra-enthusiast segment."
We know that Arc Alchemist isn't aiming to compete with the best graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia in terms of raw performance just yet, but will instead target the lower-end of the market at first.
Our friends over at PC Gamer (opens in new tab) point out that this could put Celestial not into the next-gen category, but next-next-gen, which would compete with whatever comes after Nvidia Lovelace and AMD RDNA 3. That'd put things well into 2024, most likely, but we'll have to keep an eye on that one.
The press material also talks about a Project Endgame, which Intel says "will enable users to access Intel Arc GPUs through a service for an always-accessible, low-latency computing experience."
This would essentially be for cloud gaming, it appears, but not much is known about it at this time. We won't have to wait long though, as Intel says that "Project Endgame will be available later this year."
Analysis: will Intel be the budget PC gaming hero we've been waiting for?
Our own Jackie Thomas wrote recently how the latest "budget" graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, the RTX 3050 and RX 6500 XT pretty much signaled the end of budget PC gaming.
With the RX 6500 XT starting at $199 (about £150, AU$270) MSRP and the RTX 3050 at $249 (about £185, AU$350) MSRP, even the lowest retail price for these cards could hardly be described as a budget offering – especially when it comes to more expensive AIB partner cards.
Intel Arc Alchemist though is aiming for budget market, so it has plenty of incentive to price its reference card at a lower price point to help capture market share.
We might not get that lucky, though. Since no one can even find an RTX 3050 or RX 6500 XT right now at anything close to MSRP, Intel could just flood the market with discrete cards at similar "budget" pricing as Nvidia and AMD and sell every single card it puts out and then some.
We hope that doesn't end up being the case though. We really want to see better budget offerings since not everybody is going to need an enthusiast GPU right now.
The most common GPU according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey (opens in new tab) is an Nvidia GTX 1060, with only three of the top ten GPUs being in the RTX-class (and one of those is the RTX 3060 mobile, found in many midrange gaming laptops).
At this point, getting ray-tracing and AI-powered upscaling tech to more gamers is way more important, in our opinion, than catering to the super-enthusiast who is willing to drop a small fortune on a single computer component.
If Intel prices its debut graphics card aggressively and produce it in as much quantity as its planning, it could easily become the best budget graphics card going and would earn the gratitude of a legion of PC gamers out there desperate to upgrade their rigs from several year old tech.
- Check out the best PC games around while we wait on more Alchemist news