Intel is getting into the business of selling high-powered graphics cards for PC gaming, and this week the company put a name on that business: Intel Arc.
Arc is potentially a big deal because AMD and Nvidia have been duking it out in this market for decades, and a new challenger with Intel's expertise and market share could seriously shake things up. Plus, with the ongoing chip shortage and elevated demand making high-powered graphics cards hard to find, the prospect of Intel launching its own line of high-end GPUs could offer some relief to PC game enthusiasts exhausted by the hunt for restocks of popular cards like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT.
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However, we'll have to wait until at least early next year to see Intel's Arc cards for ourselves. The first wave of Arc products, codenamed Alchemist, are due out in the first quarter of 2022, and Intel promises they'll support cutting-edge gaming graphics tech like DirectX 12 Ultimate, AI-powered supersampling, and hardware-based raytracing. The company also shared a teaser video which purports to showcase these features in games like the Crysis Remastered Trilogy, Forza Horizon 4, and Metro Exodus running on pre-release Arc silicon.
This all confirms what we've suspected for months about Intel's plans to release its own discrete graphics cards. Back in March the company revealed specs for a high-powered graphics card, known as Intel Xe HPG, that would ship in a range of configurations. Not long after that a leak suggested that the first consumer-grade cards, codenamed DG2, would be announced at the start of 2022 and released shortly thereafter.
Now we know that's exactly what Intel plans to do, and what we formerly knew as DG2 is now confirmed to be Alchemist. However, Alchemist and all future Arc releases won't be limited to graphics cards: the span of the Arc brand is broad, covering all of Intel's planned high-end consumer-grade graphics products and services for the next few years. The company even has alphabetical codenames for the next three generations of its Arc products planned: after Alchemist will come Battlemage, Celestial, and then Druid.
We'll have to wait until we see Alchemist for ourselves before we can say how significant an impact Intel Arc will have on the current state of PC gaming graphics tech, but at the very least it's exciting to see a new competitor taking a crack at the high-end GPU market. Intel hasn't been a major player in the consumer-grade discrete graphics card market since the '90s, but that could all change next year.