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Intel has announced its new Intel Arc brand for discrete high-performance consumer GPUs, as well as companion software and services, aimed largely at gamers. The first models for both desktops and laptops will be launched in 2022. Moreover, the company has disclosed the first of its genre-themed codenames that refer to upcoming products. ‘Alchemist’, formerly known as DG2, will be based on the Xe HPG architecture, and will launch in early 2022. The series will progress alphabetically, with Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid to follow. The company will kick off a marketing campaign that includes promotional videos, sneak peeks, and branded merchandise available through Intel’s website.
Intel has previously confirmed that Xe HPG will support hardware ray tracing and GDDR6 memory. GPUs will be manufactured by a third-party foundry. The new promo videos show demonstrations of variable rate shading, mesh shading, video upscaling, and AI-accelerated game supersampling. Gameplay demos included Forza Horizon 4, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Psychonauts 2, Riftbreaker, Crysis Remastered, Metro Exodus, though details of the test environment and settings used were not immediately available.
Intel has been working on graphics for several years now, and had previously promised to ship discrete GPUs by 2020. It will take on Nvidia and AMD, which have enjoyed a duopoly until now, although the GPU market has been shaken up of late by huge demand from cryptocurrency miners, as well as a global microprocessor manufacturing shortage driving prices up. No specifications or prices have been announced yet, and it is also not yet known how many models there will be in each generation, or which segments of gamers Intel will target. Intel has also not yet named retail graphics card vendor partners or OEM brands that will ship laptops and PCs with these GPUs.
The company hired AMD’s former Radeon graphics chief Raja Koduri and several other high-profile industry names. The Xe architecture and branding is intended to scale right from integrated GPUs to datacentres and high-performance exascale computing implementations.
At CES 2020, Intel showed off its DG1 demo card, which was circulated only to developers. The Iris Xe Max discrete GPU for notebooks was launched in late 2020, and the Xe architecture has also been used for integrated GPUs across some recent Intel Core CPUs.
Intel recognises that there are over three billion gamers worldwide, many of whom are also power users, content creators and multitaskers. Over one billion hours of gaming content were published to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and other platforms, and over 28 billion hours of that was watched last year.