Everything we know about Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs

Struggling to buy a GPU? Intel might be your saviour.

intel alchemist
Image via Intel

Intel’s challenge to the AMD and Nvidia GPU dominance has a name: Arc Alchemist. Here’s what we know about Intel’s first discrete gaming GPUs, and what impact they’re likely to have on the market.

Intel’s Arc Alchemist: Specifications and potential release date

The first round of Intel’s consumer-grade graphics cards, Arc Alchemist, are poised to arrive in early 2022, according to information released during Intel’s Architecture Day.

The Alchemist will be the first consumer-level card based on Intel’s brand-new Xe-HPG architecture, which will support real-time ray tracing, mesh shaders, variable rate shading, DirectX 12 Ultimate support, and the sorts of features to rival AMD and Nvidia’s current GPUs.

Initial rumors that Alchemist will be a potential powerhouse appear validated. The GPU will pack 32 Xe Cores, with each Xe Core featuring 16 Vector Engines and 16 Matrix Engines, pumping out a total of 512 execution units (EU). To put this into perspective, these figures suggest the Alchemist’s performance will rival the RTX 3070 and RX 6700 XT in terms of performance.

According to Intel, the Alchemist is “only the beginning” for its GPU plans. Future Intel GPUs and codename’s Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid are all poised to follow suit, demonstrating the extended vision of Intel Arc.

intel arc alchemist gpu
Image: Intel

Intel’s also planning to compete with Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s Fidelity FX Super Resolution (FSR) upscaling tech with XeSS. Like Nvidia’s machine-learning solution — AMD’s FSR is based on an open-source upscaling algorithm — Intel’s XeSS uses AI to upscale an image in real-time.

XeSS relies on machine learning, reconstructing subpixel details from neighboring pixels and previous frames to recreate higher resolution gameplay at a lower cost. Like Nvidia and AMD’s tech, the idea is to enable gameplay at higher frame rates and resolutions without a substantial hit to image quality, although how well it works in practice remains to be seen.

Intel released a video demonstrating XeSS running at 4K during its Architecture Day. So far, so good.

Intel’s Arc Alchemist: Expected price

Until an official announcement from Intel is made regarding official pricing, it’s too soon to state what it’ll be with any certainty. However, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be competitively priced against rival AMD and Nvidia’s current generation cards, especially if Intel’s not able to compete with the RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, RX 6900 or RTX 3090. And the introduction of more GPUs into the market could help ease the crippling supply shortages in the market, which would be a welcome sight for would-be consumers who’re desperately trying to get their hands on any sort of graphics card.

intel arc alchemist gpu 2021
Image: Intel

If Intel can hit the ground running with Arc Alchemist, the potential competition could make GPUs vastly more affordable. Regardless of how it performs, any shake-up of the GPU market is big a win for consumers.