Intel Arc GPUs could be delayed – but might be big trouble for Nvidia when they arrive

Intel Arc Alchemist GPU
(Image credit: Intel)

If you were hoping to see Intel’s Arc Alchemist graphics cards launch in early 2022, that hope seems to be rapidly fading going by new rumors, which are now suggesting that it’ll be Q2 before we see these products (and higher-end desktop GPUs may not roll into town until later in the quarter).

This comes from Moore’s Law is Dead, a renowned YouTube leaker who has been tapping his trusted Intel sources – he underlines that these are people he’s spoken to in the past who have provided accurate leaks. In short, he found a range of opinions on when Intel’s Alchemist launch timeframe might happen, but all broadly agree that Intel won’t make the cut for Q1.

One theory from an anonymous source is that all Alchemist cards, both laptop and desktop GPUs, have been pushed out to Q2, so we won’t see any actual product released until April at the earliest – but there could be a paper launch in March, and we might see laptop cards arrive first in April. The latter mobile GPUs would be low-end models, however.

The bad news for PC enthusiasts and builders is that the high-end desktop graphics cards – the real heavy hitters – may not turn up until June, going by this first source. To be fair, that’s presented as the worst-case scenario, so it could happen sooner – but the end of Q2 for the most powerful Alchemist GPU appears to be a possibility.

A second source also speculates about the top-end Alchemist graphics card, noting that it was supposed to be out in February originally, but it’s now looking like April. That’s more optimistic in that it’s the start of Q2, but still, the source doesn’t sound sure and says that April is looking ‘iffy’ now, so we could see a slip to May, or that seems to be the suggestion.

Further sources pin the big launch in May, perhaps following a high-profile reveal at PAX East (games show at the end of April), and another asserts that Alchemist GPUs will be on sale within ‘a few months’, so again, that suggests May or perhaps April, most likely.

Analysis: Delay isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course…

All of the above is rumor peddling, of course, but it seems any hope we might have held out for seeing Alchemist graphics cards appear in Q1 is rapidly vanishing under a pile of skeptical speculation.

Of course, we’ve already seen clues that Intel won’t make Q1, from Moore’s Law is Dead (again), and also changes Team Blue made to its own website removing the mention of ‘Q1’ as the launch date. Plus Intel has not stepped forward to make any effort to confirm Q1 is still on target, not since CES at the start of the year, despite all this rumor-mongering.

So, woe is us, right? No Intel Alchemist action in the near future, and no powerful desktop GPU until maybe May or June. Well, that might be true – and we have to emphasize might, of course, because these sources could turn out to be wrong – but there’s actually a lot of good news within this fresh leak when you move away from purely looking at the release timeframe.

In this latest video, Moore’s Law is Dead imparts some very exciting details, including reinforcing that, based on shipments of components as per the grapevine, Intel is shooting for having a load of graphics cards available for launch. With getting hold of GPUs being one of the biggest problems right now – seriously frustrating gamers and inflating prices hugely – this must be music to everyone’s ears.

Not only this, but the YouTube leaker talks about Intel putting a big emphasis on getting the drivers solid – one source mentions making sure they’re on a par with Nvidia in this respect – for launch. That’s something we’ve banged the drum about in the past, as it’s clear Intel will only get one chance to make a good first impression, and it can’t afford to let the software be a weak link letting down the hardware.

If Intel must wait and push the launch out to get that right, then we say: do just that. Don’t release something which isn’t optimal, we’d rather experience a delay and get the right products with good performance levels in the end.

Putting all this together, while we might have to be patient until May, or maybe even June, for our theoretical Nvidia RTX 3070 rival (or maybe even 3070 Ti), when it comes, it’ll be good, and crucially there should be plentiful availability. Indeed, any delay will help ensure better launch quantities of GPUs, too.

Healthy stock levels, plus quality cards and drivers making a positive first impression, could be combined with an attack on the pricing front, and that would be the best development in the consumer GPU world we’ve had in a long time.

Speaking of pricing, it’s worth noting that one of the above sources did mention this, and said that low-end Alchemist GPUs are expected to ‘make a mockery’ of Nvidia’s entry-level pricing. And if that doesn’t get you excited for Intel’s Alchemist cards, nothing will; whether that might carry through to higher-end products, well, we won’t get carried away just yet.

But if all this comes to fruition, we’ll happily play the waiting game. Fingers crossed that Intel takes the opportunity it has here to really change the GPU landscape, which has been verging on inhospitable terrain for way too long now.

Via PC Gamer

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).