As news of Nvidia's RTX 40 series (opens in new tab) and AMD's upcoming RX 6000 series refresh (opens in new tab) does the rounds, we can't forget that Intel is putting the finishing touches on its Arc Alchemist series (opens in new tab) of GPUs. According to Igor's lab (opens in new tab) (via Tom's Hardware (opens in new tab)) the series should launch in May to June. That's a bit later than we originally thought but given the importance and high profile of this launch, it's no surprise Intel wants to take its time.
Igor's Lab says that qualification samples will tape out in one to two weeks from now. To use a game development term, this would mean that the cards have essentially gone 'gold'. QS GPUs and cards will be used by Intel's software developers to tune the drivers and be sent to GPU partners for integration into their own designs.
It's not an overstatement to say that the success or failure of Arc GPUs may come down to the quality of the drivers. The performance leaks so far suggest that Intel isn't aiming to compete at the top end of the market, but even if they are price competitive with Nvidia and AMD offerings, it won't matter much if the drivers aren't up to scratch.
The last thing Intel wants is for forums or social media to be stuffed with complaints due to poor quality drivers. It's an area where Intel will have to raise its game if it's to win the hearts and minds of gamers. Repeats of things like the delayed Elden Ring driver (opens in new tab) won't garner any fans.
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We have high hopes for Arc cards. If they can compete with the cards like the RTX 3050 (opens in new tab) to 3070 (opens in new tab) or RX 6500 XT (opens in new tab) to 6700 XT (opens in new tab) then Intel could steal a lot of market share in the high volume entry to mid range markets. But only if they are competitively priced and the drivers are well polished.
The true gaming performance of the various Arc cards is unknown, but if leaks like this (opens in new tab) turn out to be accurate, then the high end cards could compete with the likes of the RTX 3070 Ti or RX 6800. That would be a good start for Intel. We look forward to reviewing these cards.
Intel's Arc Alchemist cards should contribute to the downward trend in GPU prices (opens in new tab). Greater supply along with less mining demand, lower prices and more cards for gamers to choose from at all prices points sounds good to us. Bring it on, Intel!