Intel Arc GPUs could have a seriously neat trick for the future

Intel Arc Alchemist GPU
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s Raja Koduri has been talking about the firm’s incoming Arc Alchemist GPUs, letting us know that the cards are now in the final stages of bug squashing, and also imparting some interesting info about future capabilities (plus, aside from this, a leaked game benchmark has recently been spotted – more on that later).

As VideoCardz reports, Koduri – who was streaming from an Arc Alchemist-powered PC – spoke to well-known streamer DrLupo on the topic of Alchemist cards, revealing that the hardware is already sampling to partners who are actively providing feedback – but that the GPUs are still not a final product yet. Intel is, however, in the process of ironing out the final bugs.

DrLupo also asked questions about Alchemist production levels and how supply and stock will pan out, and while Koduri said that Intel has flexible capacity – between its own fabs and TSMC – he obviously laid on caveats here that the chip shortage is likely to be around “for a while” yet (that much is clear across the entire industry, of course).

Interestingly, Koduri also observed that the goal for Intel, at least for the first few years, is not a financially-orientated one – in other words, making profit – but rather to establish an install base of GPUs in gaming machines, and carve into the AMD plus Nvidia duopoly.

Alchemical leak

It’s also worth diving into a recent leak here, which showed an Arc Alchemist card in an impressive light. It comes from the ever-present Tum_Apisak who tweeted a purported Ashes of the Singularity result for an unknown Alchemist GPU (but given the frame rates achieved we can assume this is likely the flagship, if it’s a genuine benchmark, of course).

As Tom’s Hardware (which spotted this) points out, while this is a 1080p result, comparing to other scores sort of puts this particular Arc GPU in line with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 (or it could be a bit more powerful, even).

The trouble is there are a whole bunch of caveats here, not the least of which is that this is just a single benchmark – and we should be careful about reading too much into any one result – plus Ashes of the Singularity, while a common source of pre-release GPU leaks, is not a great test to rely on for a variety of reasons, most notably that it’s CPU-centric. And especially with this being a 1080p (medium details) result where the graphics card is less of a factor (and when the test rig is equipped with a beefy flagship Core i9-12900K).

In short, it’d be foolish to read much into this, but then again, for what it’s worth this is still a promising enough early hint of the performance we might get from Alchemist.

Analysis: More hope for affordable price tags from Intel?

Remote play via an Arc GPU would be a very cool feature to have, but if this happens, it won’t be for some time – Koduri mentioned maybe three to four years, but that’s obviously a vague estimation.

There’s another exciting prospect for the future that the Intel exec touched on, and that’s a multiple GPU system which is scalable and just works with whatever game you throw at it, giving you the full performance benefit of two cards in tandem. However, this is likely an even longer-term goal, but it’s good to know Intel is working towards realizing the dream of a proper multi-GPU setup which isn’t hamstrung by bandwidth between cards, and is consistent so it’s not flakier with certain games.

The other point that really caught our interest here is the talk of Intel not looking at the fiscal side of the equation with its early Arc graphics cards, but rather focusing on establishing an install base. That’s just common sense, true enough, when faced with the uphill battle of breaking into the GPU market which is a two-horse race currently, but it could also be taken as a hint that we might see Intel attack on the pricing front.

That would be the best news ever for the graphics card world, right now, what with prices getting beyond ridiculous, frankly – but in the nearer-term, whether such a goal is even feasible given stock and scalping issues (driving inflation), well, we shall just have to see. If this is Intel’s overall intention, though, it bodes well for a more competitive GPU sector when stock issues finally do melt away, which may not be until 2023 going by some predictions (and that includes Team Blue’s CEO).

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).