Intel’s Arc graphics cards are here to stay, and the chip giant has no intention of giving up on progressing with discrete (standalone rather than integrated) GPUs, as some conversations on the vine recently theorized. In fact, work has already begun in earnest on Battlemage, the second generation of Arc graphics cards.
This news comes from an interview PC player (opens in new tab) led with Tom Petersen from Intel, a GPU team member who explained in very clear terms that the company remains fully dedicated to the Arc line, including gaming graphics cards.
Peterson told PC Gamer: “We’re not going anywhere in our low-key business. And our discrete business is core technology development that goes both into the data center and the integrated GPUs.”
He then repeats it to underscore the point: “I feel like there’s a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out there. I just want to be clear: we are not going anywhere.”
Peterson further notes, “Graphics is a critical technology for the customer, it’s a critical technology for the data center, and we want to start competing in the core area where our competitors are making a lot of money. So all three of these things are extremely important to Intel.”
And to support these claims, Intel Fellow notes that the development of next-gen Arc GPUs is well underway. As you no doubt know, the current crop of first-gen graphics cards are Arc Alchemist models, and Battlemage will be the second-gen release, with the majority of Arc’s graphics engineers working on manufacturing these GPUs. In fact, some engineers – a “small portion” – are looking at early development for the third generation, which is Celestial (goes A, B, C and the fourth generation will be D for Druid).
That leaves only a “very small portion” of people still working on Arc Alchemist, getting all the fine-tuning right, like the final board configuration, BIOS, and driver work. Peterson notes that “most of our design team is on Battlemage” at this point.
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Of course, the fact that Intel is doing development work on future generations of GPUs right now is not a cast-iron guarantee that these products will be realized. And the alleged losses Intel suffered (aside from the official cost, which was hefty enough) is worryingly revealing, to say the least.
Still, it’s a good sign to hear Intel making a concrete commitment to developing the next generation of standalone GPUs for the Arc family – and even though the more cynical might speculate about damage control at this doom and gloom stage of the rumor mill, things are clearly still alive and kicking at Team Blue.
Battlemage, if you remember, is scheduled to release in 2023 or 2024, and during the interview, Intel indicated that the delays we’ve seen in the launch of Alchemist graphics cards will not affect the planned delivery of Battlemage.
Naturally, the laxity of the mentioned time frame provides a bit of wiggle room anyway, and the second generation will be much easier in terms of being able to build the drivers for the first generation Alchemist GPUs. Making everything from scratch on the software side is obviously a bit more work than a second iteration of the Arc product line.
The next step for Arc Alchemist, following the launch of the budget A380 – which just went on sale in the US very recently – is higher-end offerings like the Arc A770 and A750. While these GPUs won’t wipe out AMD’s or Nvidia’s top dogs – or even remotely approach them – they can be effective mid-range challengers if the price is right. And we imagine the tempting price tag is one of the final cards Intel has left to play here, given the general instability of the Arc discrete GPU launch so far.
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