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Computing

Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPU requirements are raising eyebrows

Intel has released the requirements for its Arc Alchemist range for desktops, which reveal a rather peculiar tidbit.

Team Blue’s Arc Alchemist desktop series of GPUs will seemingly require a Resizable BAR feature in order to ensure “optimal performance.”

As reported by VideoCardz, the aforementioned document lists support for a total of three Intel CPU series, including its 12th-gen Core Alder Lake and 600 series motherboards, the 11th-gen Core Rocket Lake and 500 series, and the 10th-gen Core Comet Lake series and the 400 range of chipsets.

The guide naturally doesn’t make specific mention of any other platforms from competitors, but VideoCardz suggests that AMD-powered Smart Access Memory systems could be supported as “support for more platforms will be added at a later time.”

As for the Resizable BAR requirement that was listed in the document, the feature is a necessity to deliver ‘optimal performance in all applications’.

However, Intel has not confirmed whether the Arc Alchemist lineup of GPUs for desktops will function without Resizable BAR. This question is understandably worrying for the GPU community considering the fact that ReBAR is not something that is enabled on every single motherboard, as noted by VideoCardz.

As such, this could cause some confusion among those who buy an Arc Alchemist GPU in the future.

Elsewhere, the document shows how motherboards will need to offer a full-size PCI Express 3.0 (or newer) x16 slot in order to be compatible with Arc boards.

An Intel Arc Alchemist laptop with the Arc logo displayed.
Intel

What’s going on with Arc Alchemist?

Intel’s Arc Alchemist launch for both laptops and desktops has not gotten off to a great start, and that’s putting it lightly. After what can only be described as a botched release pattern for its mobile version of Arc GPUs, the highly anticipated ranges of Team Blue’s desktop GPUs were delayed for an umpteenth time.

The Arc A3 GPU series is set to usher in the desktop lineup, although they can only be acquired by buying a pre-built PC. Furthermore, they are only available in China before expanding into other regions, which has yet to materialize.

And with Intel deciding to forgo the recent Computex event, which was a perfect event to re-introduce Arc Alchemist to the world, you have to start wondering what the real story is behind Arc’s unprecedented launch troubles.

In any case, time is running out: Next-gen graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD are due for a launch in the coming months, and they will, by all accounts, offer a much more attractive GPUs for similar prices to the Arc range.

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Intel Arc Alchemist desktop GPUs may be worse than we thought

Today marks yet another round of bad news for Intel Arc Alchemist, this time pertaining to the Arc A380, which is the first discrete GPU for desktops that Intel had released. Upon announcing the card, Intel compared it to the budget AMD Radeon RX 6400, all the while promising that the A380 would provide an up to 25% uplift in performance versus the RX 6400.

Intel’s claims have been closely examined, and unfortunately, the A380 fails to meet those expectations. While the Intel Arc GPU is faster than the AMD RX 6400, it only wins by 4%. The other cards from the lineup have also been given another look.

3DCenter

Intel has just recently released its first Arc Alchemist desktop GPU, the A380. For the time being, the card is only available in China, and is only being shipped in pre-built desktop PCs. However, Intel has promised to soon move on to the next stage, which is to release it on the DIY market in China, and then finally, globally.

As part of the release announcement, Intel shared a performance slide for the GPU, showing the average frames per second (fps) when gaming at 1080p on medium settings. With that, Intel promised that the A380 should be up to 25% faster than the AMD Radeon RX 6400 — but the slide didn’t contain any matching figures to back up that statement. This prompted 3DCenter to verify that information, and unfortunately, it’s bad news all around for Intel Arc.

It seems that the general public may have missed an important factor in relation to Intel’s claims — the promise of an up to 25% increase in performance only applies to a performance versus price comparison. In short, since the RX 6400 is slightly more expensive than the A380, the actual performance boost is much smaller than expected.

3DCenter compared the data available for Intel Arc A380 and for the RX 6400. The Intel GPU is priced at 1,030 yuan (around $153) while the AMD graphics card costs 1,199 yuan ($178). According to 3DCenter, Intel’s claims mostly check out when it comes to performance per yuan — the Arc A380 wins by around 21%, making it more cost-effective. However, the raw performance gains are significantly smaller, amounting to around 4%.

Intel Arc lineup -- expectations versus possible reality.
3DCenter

As a result of those findings, 3DCenter went on to take a closer look at some of the other claims that were made about the performance of the entire Intel Arc lineup. Although much like Intel’s claims, these comparisons are difficult to verify, it seems that it might be a good idea to keep your expectations muted where Intel Arc desktop GPUs are concerned.

The flagship Intel Arc A780, with the full 32 Xe-cores across a 256-bit bus and 16GB of GDDR6 memory, was often compared to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, and sometimes, even the RTX 3070 Ti. However, 3DCenter now says that the GPU will be “slightly worse than RTX 3060 Ti.” The other GPUs in the range are also knocked down a notch with these updated predictions, with the most entry-level A310 now being called “significantly slower than Radeon RX 6400.”

It’s hard to deny that things are looking a little bleak for Intel’s first discrete gaming GPU launch. After numerous delays, a staggered launch, and most importantly, with questionable levels of performance, it might be difficult for Intel Arc to find its footing in a GPU market dominated by Nvidia and AMD. However, despite the wait, it’s still early days, and further driver optimizations might bring Intel Arc amongst the best GPUs yet — especially if the company keeps the price competitive.

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Intel Arc Alchemist A380 Discrete Graphics Card: Specs Leak

Intel’s upcoming discrete GPUs, dubbed Intel Arc Alchemist, are coming next year, and some new leaks reveal what kind of performance we can expect from them.

According to the leak, one of the upcoming GPUs, the A380, is likely to offer performance similar to that of Nvidia’s GTX 1650 Super, an entry-level video card from Nvidia’s previous generation of graphics.

Image credit: Wccftech

The information comes from TUM_APISAK on Twitter, a well-known source for graphics card-related rumors and leaks. The tweet in question talks about some of the specifications of the upcoming Intel Arc A380 graphics card and reveals the expected naming convention Intel might use. It seems that Intel is going to name the new cards A***, with the numbers changing to correspond to the performance tier of that specific card.

What we’re seeing in TUM_APISAK’s reveal is most likely the desktop variant of this graphics card. In terms of specifications, the A380 is said to be based on an Alchemist (XE-HPG DG2) GPU. It will be fabricated on the TSMC 6nm process node. Its 8 Xe cores will house 128 execution units (EUs). The top model of this lineup will allegedly have 512 EUs and 32 Xe cores.

The card is also rumored to have an impressive clock speed of 2.45GHz. Whether this frequency will be the boost clock or the base clock remains to be seen, but such speeds put the A380 within range of AMD Navi 22 and Navi 23 graphics cards. In addition, the card will have 6GB of GDDR6 memory. It has also been said that all Arc Alchemist cards will come with ray-tracing and the XeSS feature set, a form of image upscaling on Intel cards.

There was no mention of the bus, but previous leaks suggest a 96-bit interface. In the desktop version of the card, we can expect to see 16Gbps pin speeds, adding up to 168GB/s of bandwidth. The laptop version is said to be slightly worse, with 14Gbps pin speeds and 168GB/s bandwidth. Intel Arc Alchemist A380 is likely going to be fairly conservative with poweer, with a TDP of 75W.

Intel Arc A380 Graphics
2.45GHz 6GB

perf 1650S#IntelArc #DG2

— APISAK (@TUM_APISAK) December 2, 2021

TUM_APISAK hasn’t provided any benchmarks, but he did suggest that the performance of this card is going to rival that of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super. While that is a rather dated card by now, it continues to be one of the best budget graphics cards out there. This bodes well for the Arc Alchemist.

The pricing of the card hasn’t yet been revealed, but the launch is still a few months away. Remember, its performance and specifications may not be accurate right now. If the leaks prove to be true, this card is likely to be rather inexpensive, with a price of around $250 or less.

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Intel Arc Alchemist Might Make Sub-$200 GPUs a Reality Again

According to a new leak from Moore’s Law Is Dead, Intel’s upcoming Arc Alchemist graphics card could finally offer an affordable, sub-$200 GPU to consumers.

The well-known leaker revealed in a YouTube video that a variant of Intel’s Arc Alchemist entry-level graphics card, which will run on the company’s Xe-HPG GPU architecture, will be based on the 128-EU model. It’ll reportedly feature a clock speed ranging between 2.2GHz and 2.5GHz on chipmaker TSMC’s 6nm process node.

MLID also said that the GPU will utilize 6GB of GDDR6 memory clocked at 16Gbps over a 96-bit memory bus for the desktop variant. The laptop model, meanwhile, is expected to deliver 4GB of GDDR6 memory across a 64-bit bus at 14Gbps.

Notably, Moore’s Law Is Dead predicts the GPU could cost $179 or less. Due to the purported components of the entry-level Arc Alchemist, he expects Intel could even attach a price point as low as $150 to the graphics card.

If the aforementioned estimation becomes a reality when the product gets officially announced, it would mark the return of inexpensive graphics cards priced at $200 or below. The only GPU that comes close to that price point in the current generation of video cards is Nvidia’s RTX 3060 with an MSRP of $329. 

One of the reasons why the graphics card could cost below $200 is its thermal design power — the GPU will allegedly yield a power draw of only 75 watts. AMD’s most efficient card, the RX 6600, has a power draw of 132W, so Intel’s looks to be much more efficient overall. 

As for other specs related to the Arc Alchemist, the cut-down models will reportedly supply 96 EUs with a 64-bit bus interface. ​​As Wccftech notes, there have been rumors pertaining to a variant providing 4GB of GDDR6 memory, but MLID doesn’t rule out a 3GB desktop model. 

The 128-EU model of the GPU is expected to launch at the end of February or March on laptops. It’ll be followed by a desktop release sometime during the second quarter of 2022. Intel will thus go head-to-head with AMD, with team Red also set to announce its own entry-level card, the Navi 24 RDNA 2 Radeon RX GPU, in the first few months of 2022 as well.

With the current shortage of GPUs and the subsequent price increases, hopefully the incoming launch of entry-level graphics cards will at least provide an affordable solution for consumers until the unprecedented state of affairs improves in 2023.

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