Intel’s Arc Alchemist desktop graphics cards may not arrive until May, or perhaps even the start of June, according to the latest from the GPU grapevine.
This comes from Igor’s Lab, a well-known source of leaks, and Igor claims that the top three Alchemist models – the flagship and higher-end graphics cards, with 512 EUs (Execution Units), 448 EUs and 384 EUs respectively, in theory – are expected to debut between May 2 and June 1.
While this is just a rumor, it makes some sense. If you recall, we were initially hoping to see Arc Alchemist desktop GPUs in Q1, but in February, Intel revealed that they weren’t coming until the second quarter. The likely arrival month of May is bang in the middle of that quarter, of course, and not having heard that much from the rumor mill of late about Arc does seem to hint that an April arrival might be optimistic.
As ever, apply some hefty pinches of salt with any rumor. Igor believes that the qualification samples – effectively the finished cards, to be sent out to Intel’s partners for testing – won’t be ready for another week or two.
Analysis: Balancing the pressures of getting it out, and getting it right
Igor does share his thoughts on why Intel is still being held up getting Arc Alchemist cards out of the door, while underlining that they are pure speculation in this case (as opposed to info dripped through from sources). And just as we’ve pointed out in the past, Igor’s theory is that Intel is working to nail the graphics driver, stating that (via a Google translation): “If my own experience with DG1, which has just been retested with the latest drivers, matches the suspected problems, then it could be a pure software problem.”
That would make sense, really, as at this late stage, it’s less likely to be issues with the hardware, and more about ironing out performance with the driver – and ensuring it’s firing well with all the most popular games.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Intel will only get one chance to make a good first impression when it tries to break into the GPU market owned by AMD and Nvidia (with the latter highly dominant in the desktop arena), and the danger is that initially wonky drivers could leave a negative perception hanging over the Arc brand for a long time.
It’s imperative that this doesn’t happen in our book, even if it means further delays for Intel. But that has to be balanced against releasing as soon as possible in order to better take advantage of AMD and Nvidia’s supply woes, and ensuring Team Blue gets in well ahead of the debut of next-gen graphics cards from these rivals which are due later in 2022.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).