Intel’s launch of their brand new graphics cards is coming at a bit of an awkward time. Not only is it smack bang in between two new generations of hardware, but it's also coming at a time when the world is struggling with a global chip shortage. Now, in a recent interview, Intel has confirmed some interesting decisions for their Arc Alchemist GPUs.
Intel will not be limiting cryptocurrency mining performance on their Arc Alchemist graphics cards:
Perhaps the most important decision is that Intel will not be following Nvidia in limiting the raw cryptocurrency mining performance (also known as the ‘Hash Rate’) of their upcoming Arc Alchemist cards. That may bring unwanted flashbacks of earlier this year to gamers when crypto miners were buying up all the GPU stock they could find, rarely leaving any left for actual PC gamers who actually need them.
But the reasoning for Intel is simple: they’re aiming specifically at gamers and creators and so whilst there is no reason for a miner to not buy Intel’s GPUs, there also isn’t a whole lot of reason for them to buy them anyway for their needs. In short: the Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs are not exactly attractive options for miners.
“We are designing Intel Arc and the Alchemist family of products as gamer-first and creator-first,” said Roger Chandler, Vice President and General Manager of Client Graphics Products and Solutions at Intel. “All the optimisations, the features, everything we're doing, is really to make sure we can solve problems and deliver value to gamers and creators.”
“As far as like software lockouts and things of that nature, we're not designing this product or building any features at this point that specifically target miners. As far as actions we're taking to avoid or lock them out, it's a product that will be in the market and people will be able to buy it. It's not a priority for us.”
On a bit more of a technical level, Intel’s GPU drivers on Linux systems are Open Source, and most crypto mining is done using the Linux operating system. So in order for Intel to implement any form of hash rate limiter for Linux they would need to use proprietary drivers instead.
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU supply at launch:
The family of Intel Arc Alchemist graphics cards are launching in Q1 2022, and just like above the issue of supply is certainly on everyone’s minds. Although having a third competitor out there will certainly help the situation and bring more GPUs available on shelves, Intel themselves are not immune to the current chip shortages:
“I'll always be very cautious, when the demand is so high and when the market is so hard,” said Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics “I can always use more supply. So I'm not going to say I have enough supply in this high-demand market. I think every one of my competitors will say the same thing right now.”
That’s not exactly the best news to hear, especially when even after a year supply for GPUs is still very tight, and many customers are unable to get the cards they want at reasonable prices. So although Intel is being very cautious, it seems that there might still be issues with availability when the cards launch in 2022.
Add on top of that a long line of gamers who have been waiting to get their hands on a new graphics card for a long time, we might see a large influx of people trying to get their own Intel GPU. Intel also didn’t comment on pricing, though they are not planning any reference card designs at the moment so expect pricing to be subject to the same inflated pricing next year.
Intel XeSS game support:
Another very exciting thing regarding Intel’s new graphics cards is the launch of their very own version of an AI upscaling technique, similar to Nvidia’s DLSS. So far we haven’t seen much from it, but it seems to blend the technique of DLSS with the functionality of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution. That is to say that you won’t particularly need an Intel GPU to use it.
In the same interview though, Chandler talked about how XeSS will be expanding into many more games after launch: “We are actively working with dozens and dozens of studios right now. It's only going to grow as well because really what motivates developers is the fact that they understand how many platforms support this feature.”
But it seems that you can also expect a lot of games to feature XeSS support after launch: “Our open approach is really driving more excitement than pretty much any other feature in the ecosystem right now. You should expect a very healthy collection of games to support this, and that will grow aggressively over time.”
When asked whether Intel will be committed to a driver release schedule for their Arc Alchemist GPUs, Chandler confirmed that “Yes. Also, just you know, making sure [we] release updates associated with some of the major titles coming out as well, because there's a lot of great work we can do there. So, we do plan to have a very nimble and dynamic as well as a regular release schedule for this.”
What do you think? Should Intel implement a crypto mining limiter? Will that be worth it for gamers and sales? Do you think we’ll see decent supply for the Arc Alchemist cards at launch? Or will they be sold out quickly like any other GPU launch? And will they be affected by inflated prices too? Let us know your thoughts!