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Computing

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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Mars probe captures groundbreaking image of planet’s discrete aurora

It isn’t only the USA and China that are exploring Mars. The UAE has captured new images of the red planet’s discrete aurora, which could deepen our understanding of the interactions between solar radiation, Mars’ magnetic fields, and the planetary atmosphere.

Up front:  The images were taken by the Mars Hope Probe’s EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) instrument, and show a ghostly glow known as the discrete aurora.

The pictures fully characterize the discrete aurora phenomenon in Mars’ atmosphere for the first time in history. Scientists believe they could challenge the notion that large scale solar events are needed to drive Mars auroral events

The implications for our understanding of Mars’ atmospheric and magnetospheric science are tremendous and provide new support to the theory that solar storms are not necessary to drive Mars‘ aurora,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, the Emirates Mars Mission’s science lead.

Credit: Emirates Mars Mission
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Computing

CyberPowerPC Has a Desktop With First Intel Discrete GPU

CyberPowerPC, a well-known computer manufacturer, has surprised gaming enthusiasts with a new prebuilt desktop that can now be found in Best Buy. On the surface, it’s a budget gaming PC like any other, but looking deeper into the hardware reveals an unprecedented choice. The system comes with a discrete Intel Iris Xe DG1 graphics card — a GPU that most people have never even heard of. This raises some questions and might make people wonder: Are there now three, and not two, contenders in the graphics card arena?

The question can be put to rest almost as soon as it’s raised — Intel is not currently in a great place to compete with AMD or Nvidia. However, despite the fact that Intel’s Iris Xe was never meant to end up inside a gaming system, CyberPowerPC still found some use for it. The resulting desktop is being sold at Best Buy for the low price of $750. Aside from the surprising choice of GPU, the other components are what you’d typically find in a budget gaming desktop. CyberPowerPC’s aptly named Gamer Xtreme Gaming Desktop comes with an Intel Core i5-11400F processor, a 500GB SSD, 8GB of memory, and a set of gaming peripherals.

The Intel Iris Xe DG1 is definitely the most interesting part of this otherwise cookie-cutter system. That is partly due to the fact that it wasn’t initially meant for a consumer release. At first, the company sent the card in an SDV (software development vehicle) format to developers within its ISV (independent software vendor) community. There were no plans to release this particular card to the public, and Intel made it clear that the final specs of the GPU would differ from the SDV model.

Intel Iris Xe DG1

But a few months ago, Asus presented a dual-fan version of Intel’s Iris Xe DG1. While we don’t know any details about the card found inside CyberPowerPC’s desktop, we can only assume that the specs are similar to the Asus version. If that is true, the card comes with 80 execution units, a 1,700 MHz clock, and 4GB of LPDDR4X memory combined with a 128-bit memory bus.

We expect the card to be sufficient for everyday use, but putting it in a gaming system is a brave decision. However, the DG1 is likely going to be a satisfactory option for gamers on a budget who don’t expect outstanding performance.

Intel has never tried to wedge itself between Nvidia and AMD, both of which are established on the discrete graphics card market. This might still change — Intel is working on its next discrete GPU, the Intel DG2, which is designed for gamers. Rumors initially pointed to a release date in 2022 or beyond, but new leaks suggest that the DG2 may arrive sooner than expected. If Intel’s plans work out, AMD and Nvidia might see some competition in the near future.

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Intel Xe HPG discrete gaming graphics card might debut next week

Intel has long been trying to convince both users and manufacturers that its graphics tech is all you need but that spiel has always fallen flat when it came to gaming and graphics-extensive applications. It wasn’t until its most recent Intel Xe graphics architecture that that claim actually started to finally show some promise. That said, Intel’s new graphics tech is still missing one critical market but that might change next week when the chipmaker finally reveals its Intel Xe HPG discrete graphics card made especially for gaming.

Intel Xe, basically the company’s 12th gen graphics architecture, introduced a new brand of GPUs that, admittedly, showed more muscle than any of its previous Intel Iris chips. While the technology also covered integrated GPUs like the Intel Iris Xe MAX for laptops, much of the attention and fanfare have been poured over the company’s first discrete graphics cards. That said, those graphics cards, based on the DG1 GPU, were made available only to system builders to sell as part of pre-built PCs. What many consumers, especially gamers, are waiting for is the company’s first commercial GPU.

That might come as the Intel Xe HPG, short for High-Performance Graphics, that was teased back in 2020. This GPU, targeted at enthusiasts, is meant to combine several traits from the integrated Xe-LP, the server Xe-HPC, and the large-scale compute Xe-HPC. Unlike the already available versions of Intel Xe-LP, this one is made specifically to address the needs of gaming.

Intel hasn’t committed to a date when it would announce this Xe HPG but a scavenger hunt discovered by Wccftech hints that an important event is scheduled for March 26 at 9 AM PT. Whether that’s an actual announcement or an announcement of an announcement still isn’t certain. Right on schedule, however, Intel also started promoting the GPU with a video teaser.

Details about the Inte Xe HPG “DG2” remain slim aside from the DDR6 memory that Intel itself confirmed last year. Recent leaks did hint that the card will have 512 execution units, 4,096 cores, and 12GB of that DDR6 video memory. That, however, may apply to only one graphics card as Intel is also expected to launch a whole line of them covering different tiers.

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Computing

HP Envy 13 review: A slim, light, and inexpensive workhorse with discrete graphics

There’s a lot to like about the HP Envy 13, starting with its super-slim design, its bright 4K display, its comfy keypad and impressive quad-core performance. The Envy 13 also manages to pack in a discrete GPU and respectable battery life, all for a very reasonable price tag. That said, we did encounter some issues with the laptop’s overly sensitive trackpad (which HP says it’s investigating), resulting in a jittery cursor that regularly jumped around the screen and even highlighted and deleted our words by accident.

Configuration

For as little as $750 with discounts, you can snap up an HP Envy 13 with a 13-inch full-HD display, an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 8GB of RAM, and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 core. On the other end of the spectrum is a 13-inch HP Envy with a 4K display, a 1TB SSD, a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card, all for a discounted $1,350 sticker price. You can explore all these configurations directly on HP’s Envy 13 shopping page.

We tested the HP Envy 13-aq0044nr ($1,100 on Amazon), which cherry-picks features from both the higher- and lower-end configurations of the laptop.

  • CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • GPU: Discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250
  • Display: 13-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS BrightView touchscreen
  • Storage: 512GB SSD

Overall, that’s an impressive amount of power under the hood for a fairly reasonable price. The 8th-gen Core i7 processor might look like a disappointing downgrade to those thirsting for a 10th-gen Intel CPU, but from what we’ve seen, there’s not much of a performance gap between the 8th-gen Whiskey Lake processor in this configuration and the 10th-gen Comet Lake chip in the pricier Envy 13 models. Both of these quad-core CPUs are built on Intel’s 14nm process, for one thing. While the Comet Lake processor has a slightly higher boost clock, you’re probably not going to feel the difference in typical daily desktop duties.

Besides the solid CPU, you’re also getting a generous 16GB of RAM and a roomy 512GB SSD, meaning you’ll enjoy plenty of multitasking headroom, plus enough storage to install plenty of programs and even a decent amount of media. The 4K touchscreen should deliver razor-sharp visuals (although you’ll pay a price in the battery-life department), and then there’s the cherry on top: discrete graphics in the form of an entry-level Nvidia mobile graphics card, handy for working in Adobe Premiere or even playing a little Fortnite

Design

Sleek, slim and silver (or “pale gold,” if you cough up an extra $10 on HP’s online configurator), the HP Envy 13 cuts an enviably trim profile. Measuring 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.58 inches and weighing in at just 2.8 pounds (or 3.42 pounds with the AC cord, which comes with a compact power brick), the Envy 13 feels great to hold in your hands, and it’s barely there in your backpack. I should know, because the Envy 13 served as my laptop at CES in Vegas this year. My back is eternally grateful for the Envy 13’s light, wafer-thin shell.

The top of the HP Envy 13’s aluminum lid is featureless save for the HP logo stamped in the middle. When you close the lid, the front lip has an hourglass edge that makes the laptop easier to open, while the L-shaped back edge of the lid covers the hinge, making the rear of the Envy 13 look like the spine of a book. When opened, the hinge props up the Envy 13’s lower chassis, angling the keyboard while also allowing for a cooling airflow beneath the laptop.

hp envy 13 aq0044nr hinge Ben Patterson/IDG

The hinge on the HP Envy 13 props up the keyboard while helping to maintain airflow beneath the chassis.

Opening the Envy 13’s lid reveals (in the case of this particular SKU) the eye-popping 4K display, which is surrounded by slim bezels on the top and sides but a rather chunkier one on the bottom. Above the keyboard sits a speaker grille with an attractive diamond-cut design. The power button takes residence just above the Escape key, which should help prevent the accidental presses users sometimes experience with side-mounted versions.

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Computing

Laptop graphics 2020: Integrated vs discrete, which should you buy?

Integrated graphics in laptops have long been the butt of jokes among PC gamers, as that technology so worthless that it comes free with your laptop. But times and technologies are changing, and believe it or not, the latest integrated solutions are finally due some respect.

Integrated graphics that didn’t stink actually started with Ryzen 3000, and continued with Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake and again with Ryzen 4000. Intel, however, took it up another notch when it introduced its 11th gen “Tiger Lake” CPUs with Iris Xe graphics.

And yes, it can run Crysis. Not the remastered version, but the one from 2007. Here’s the proof (see blue bars below):

tiger lake crysis IDG

Intel’s Core i7-1185G7 as well as Ryzen 7 4800U can indeed run Crysis (the 2007 one).

Performance of a game from 2007, even if it created its own Internet meme, isn’t something people care too much about. So yes, it can run Rise of the Tomb Raider too, which dates to 2015. Set to Very High at 1080p resolution, the Iris Xe and Radeon do reasonably well. With lower settings and a lower resolution, they’re even better.

tiger lake rotr IDG

Set to a lower resolution and with a few tweaks, it’s entirely possible to play games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider on integrated graphics at enjoyable frame rates.

We can go on with comparing integrated graphics against integrated graphics, but we know you want to see how Iris Xe and Radeon compare to GeForce cards. To do that, we reached for results from various laptops we’ve reviewed to compare Tiger Lake and Ryzen. While the CPUs on those discrete graphics laptops make a difference in the graphics score, sticking with 3DMark’s synthetic Sky Diver gives a result that’s about 90 percent graphics-bound.

One weakness of Sky Diver is it runs separate tests focused on the GPU and then on the CPU. Although that gives you a better way to judge GPU or CPU performance, it doesn’t give you that much insight on what might happen during a concurrent load when both are used heavily, such as in many games. That doesn’t make what it tells you wrong, it’s just you need to understand the results.

For GPUs we went through and pulled scores from Nvidia’s low-end GeForce MX150, MX250, and MX330, and even threw in two GeForce GTX 1650 GPUs. One is Max-Q, while the other is is a full-power version.To really round it out, we also rope in scores from various HD laptops, older Ryzen APUs, and a Kaby Lake G score too. Kaby Lake G, if you don’t recall, is a combined Intel CPU with a combined custom Radeon graphics chip in a tiny package.

igp discrete IDG

Both 11th-gen Tiger Lake and Ryzen 7 4800U’s integrated graphics now easily exceed GeForce MX GPUs in synthetic tests.

To make the results a little easier to read, we’ve highlighted them by brand color: green for Nvidia, red for AMD, and blue for Intel. The chart is ranked from fastest to slowest. No surprise, at the bottom are Intel’s basic UHD graphics CPUs.

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Computing

The Acer Swift 3x boasts Intel’s new Iris Xe Max discrete GPU

What was known previously as the Intel Xe HPG discrete graphics chip for laptops appears to be officially branded as the Iris Xe Max, and will appear in Acer’s latest Swift 3x laptop. Intel, though, is remaining quiet on the matter.

Acer’s new Swift 3x (SF314-510G), announced Wednesday, lists the laptop’s graphics capabilities as the “Iris Xe Max,” the brand that PCWorld discovered in an Intel sizzle reel in September. The Verge was granted some hands-on time with the new device (but not permission to run any graphics benchmarks) and confirmed that the Iris Xe Max is indeed Intel’s new discrete GPU. It will be paired with Intel’s new Tiger Lake CPUs, specifically the Core i7-1165G7 and Core i5-1135G7 chips.

Unfortunately we don’t know the Swift 3x’s price, or its ship date. Intel also declined to confirm whether the Iris Xe Max is a discrete GPU.

acer swift 3x sf314 510g high 01 Acer

Acer’s new Swift 3x.

Intel representatives, who had previously promised more details on the Iris Xe Max, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In August, however, Intel confirmed its first discrete GPU for gamers, referred to then as the Xe HPG, which company executives said would support hardware ray-tracing as well as a new memory controller. 

Otherwise, Acer’s Swift 3x looks like a standard Swift 3, a laptop that has traditionally boasted a solid keyboard, a good display, and excellent battery life. Because the Swift 3x uses only a 1080p display, we might be able to expect even better battery performance, up to 17.5 hours, Acer says. Fast-charging for just 30 minutes will power the Swift 3x for up to four hours of use.

acer swift 3x sf314 510g blue 04 backlit Acer

The Iris Xe Max is the most innovative news about the Swift 3x, and we’ll be interested to see what it will deliver: performance on a par with Nvidia’s low-end GeForce MX-series chips? Or something better?

Acer Swift 3x (SF314-510G) features and specs

  • Display: 14-inch (1920×1080, IPS), maximum brightness of 300 nits
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7, Core i5-1135G7
  • Graphics: Iris Xe Max
  • Memory: Up to 16GB dual-channel LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD with Optane; 256/512/1TB PCI Gen3 NVMe
  • Ports:  Undisclosed number of USB-C (Thunderbolt 4), USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • Camera: Undisclosed
  • Battery: Up to 17.5 hours
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 (Intel AX201 802.11ax Gig+, 2×2 MIMO)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro
  • Dimensions (inches): 12.71 x 8.4 x 0.71 inches (17.95mm)
  • Weight: 3.02 pounds
  • Color: Undisclosed
  • Price:  Undisclosed

Updated at 3:41 PM to note that Intel is not confirming whether the Iris Xe Max is a discrete GPU.

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Computing

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 review: Fast and affordable, with discrete graphics

Packed with features sure to make productivity mavens happy, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 delivers both performance and value in a slim and trim shell, even if its battery life isn’t quite what we’d hoped.

Powered by a Core i5 Ice Lake processor and armed with discrete GeForce MX350 graphics, this configuration of the IdeaPad Slim 7 ($880 from Lenovo) deftly handles crushing CPU loads and Adobe Premiere-level graphical chores. It also boasts such niceties as a Thunderbolt 3 port, facial and fingerprint biometrics, Dolby Atmos sound, and Wi-Fi 6 support. 

The IdeaPadSlim 7’s battery life fell a little short of our expectations, and the laptop’s staid design, while pleasingly slim, won’t wow anybody (which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with Lenovo’s IdeaPad line). Still, it offers a good feature set for this price range (or even cheaper, if you can grab Lenovo’s “instant” discount).

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Configuration

Lenovo offers five versions of the IdeaPad Slim 7, ranging from our unit (82A4000MUS) to a $1,130 (or $1,017 post-discount) version with a Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an integrated Intel Iris Plus GPU. There are also IdeaPad Slim 7 models powered by AMD Ryzen 4000-series chips (here’s our performance preview), but Lenovo is currently out of stock. More units are in the pipeline, we’re told.

Here are the detailed specifications on the system we reviewed:

  • CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5-1035G1 (Ice Lake)
  • Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 3200MHz
  • Graphics: Discrete Nvidia GeForce MX350
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 14-inch FHD (1920×1080) IPS, 300 nits, non-touch
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Connectivity: One Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps Type-C, two USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps Type-A, HDMI, combo audio jack, microSD slot
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Biometrics: IR facial recognition, fingerprint sensor
  • Battery capacity: 60.7 Watt-hour
  • Dimensions: 12.62 x 8.19 x 0.58 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds (measured), 0.68-pound AC adapter

Just looking at the specs, this is a rock-solid configuration for the price, starting with the peppy Core i5 Ice Lake CPU, the roomy 512GB SSD, and the 8GB of low-power RAM (though 16GB would have been better). The discrete MX350 graphics card won’t deliver silky gaming visuals, but it should do the trick for content creators.

You also get a reasonably bright 14-inch full-HD display. It’s non-touch, unfortunately, although pricier SKUs do offer touchscreens. The Thunderbolt 3 port is great for connecting dual 4K displays and speedy external storage, and a pair of SuperSpeed USB-A ports handle legacy peripherals. More goodies include facial and fingerprint biometrics, plus Wi-Fi 6 (time to pull the trigger on that Wi-Fi 6 router you’ve been pining for), while the beefy 60.7-Watt-hour battery promises plenty of battery life (as we’ll see in our performance section).

Design

True to its name, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7’s 0.58-inch profile is svelte, but the laptop’s aluminum, slate-gray lid is completely featureless save for a small “Lenovo” logo on the side. In other words (and as with other laptops in Lenovo’s IdeaPad line), don’t expect the Slim 7 draw any envious looks while you’re out and about. Still, we appreciate the lip along the top edge of the lid, which makes it easier to pry the laptop open with your fingertip.

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