Intel has released its first discrete Arc GPUs, but desktop graphics cards are still a long way off

Intel has taken the best bits from AMD and the best from Nvidia is gearing up to make a splash in the discrete graphics card market. And I’m not just talking about the number of engineers, designers, and marketers Intel stole from the big two in the GPU game. From the design of new alchemist architecture itself, to the software, to the upscaling solution, it’s clear that Intel is learning from the best.

That’s not to say Intel isn’t bringing its own style to the party, as launches its first Arc GPUs for mobile devicesBut when you’re trying to break into a market that’s been dominated by just two players for decades, you need to pay attention to what works and not reinvent the wheel.

Before you get too excited about a third player in the GPU market, we’re not talking about Intel’s discrete desktop graphics cards just yet. Intel has just announced its Arc 3 GPUs coming into thin and light laptops starting in early April. After that, in early summer, it will be the Arc 5 and Arc 7 GPUs; the discrete silicon going into all-Intel gaming laptops.

However, there’s nothing but a tease about the desktop versions, and so the wait continues… But it’s worth stating that the core design will be identical from the lowest laptop GPU to the beefier desktop chip.

So first we have Arc 3 on A350M and A370M, with six and eight Xe-cores (think SM in Nvidia parlance), respectively. Next, we’ll get the larger ox, the Arc 5 A550M with 16 Xe Cores, and then a pair of high-end Arc 7 GPUs – A730M and A770M – with 24 and 32 Xe Cores.

Intel is building these graphics cards from a pair of A-Series SoCs for mobile devices, the ACM-G11 with up to 8 Xe-cores for the Arc 3 and the ACM-G10 with up to 32 Xe-cores for the Arc 5 and 7 cards.

Image 1 of 4

(Image credit: Intel)
Image 2 of 4

Intel Arc Xe Slices

(Image credit: Intel)
Image 3 of 4

Intel Arc Xe Core

(Image credit: Intel)
Image 4 of 4

Intel Arc Xe Vector Engine

(Image credit: Intel)

we’ve talked before about these projects since when they first leaked many moons ago, in terms of their Execution Unit (EU) counts of 96, 128, 256, 384, and 512 EUs. The old UE design worked with Intel’s old graphics chips, but now they’re known as Xe vector engines (XVE) and look a lot like AMD’s RDNA-based dual workgroup design.

But attached to each of the XVEs is the XMX array engine that looks a lot like a mini Nvidia Tensor Core, and each Xe-core comes with a dedicated ray-tracing unit. Interesting that even the lowest spec GPU comes with ray tracing hardware, and it will be interesting given the traditional demands on RT resources, how they are used.

The fact that these two main mobile graphics cards are equipped with 12GB and 16GB of GDDR6 memory, connected to 192-bit and 256-bit memory buses, also shows how seriously Intel is serious about manufacturing high-end GPUs for devices. furniture.

Looking at the desktop versions, you can expect some parity between the designs of these mobile chips and their non-mobile brethren. I would expect the core counts to line up (although we probably won’t see an Xe six-core desktop chip), but they will come with higher clock speeds and more extreme power demands as a consequence.

Again, showing how Intel learned from the other two, the Xe Super Sampling (XeSS) uses the Arc design’s XMX AI engine to power the temporal upscaler, in the same way that Nvidia’s DLSS uses Tensor Cores of Ampere.

Image 1 of 2

Intel Arc 3 Performance

(Image credit: Intel)
Image 2 of 2

Intel Arc 3 Performance

(Image credit: Intel)

In terms of actual performance, we’re still a bit in the dark on high-end GPUs, but Intel has at least shared the level of mainstream gaming framerates you can expect from the Arc A370M GPU. Basically, you can expect 1080p gaming from your new ultra-mobile laptop at a constant 60 fps. How this compares to AMD’s latest integrated graphics, we’ll have to wait and see until we get comparative notebooks for testing. But from the looks of things, the 8 Xe-core chip can outperform the 680M.

Which should also put it above the Nvidia MX 450 at the lower end of Nvidia’s GPU stack.

It’s an exciting time, to finally be on the cusp of a third entrant in the formerly two-horse GPU race. And while low-end mobile graphics chips aren’t necessarily the ones we really want to use, they can lay a solid foundation for Intel to build on. And I’m looking forward to trying them out when I finally get my hands on them next month.

Leave a Comment