The much-awaited entry of Intel in the discrete graphics segment is getting closer and closer as the company gets ready to launch its first Arc Alchemist GPUs for gamers, based on the brand new Xe-HPG architecture.
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU: First Major Discrete Graphics Architecture For All Kinds of Gamers
[Updated – 23/01/22]
When we talk about GPUs, only two names come to mind, AMD or NVIDIA. Both companies have been offering their latest GPUs for a diverse range of markets. These include desktops, mobility, workstations, and servers. Intel hasn’t had a profound presence within the graphics segment yet, they have the highest GPU share of all companies. Why’s that the case? Well, Intel has had GPUs, but only integrated ones that are found on almost all of their CPUs. Whether consumers use those GPUs is a whole different thing.
Intel is now aiming to change that, in fact, for the last couple of years and ever since the formation of their Visual Technologies Group which is headed by Raja Koduri, the company is set to release a brand new graphics architecture that is all set to enter the GPU world in 2022. Meet Arc, the brand new chapter in Intel’s graphics vision!
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU – So What Are We Going To Call Them?
So we know the brand name from Intel is Arc and the first graphics lineup is going to be called Alchemist and they are going to feature the Xe-HPG (High-Performance Graphics) graphics architecture. Now the Alchemist name sounds a little too geeky but it’s also a nice touch compared to all the Scientists & Star codenames that NVIDIA and AMD have been using. Also, Intel doesn’t stop at Alchemist and has even more codenames detailed that they plan on launching in the future. Keep on reading to know more about that.
To make things simple, this is how each company brands its current graphics lineup [Company][Branding][Identifer][Family]:
- Intel Arc Alchemist
- NVIDIA GeForce 30
- AMD Radeon 6000
But that’s not all, we also have come to know what the products will be called. There are at least two products that have so far been leaked and confirmed by Intel. The first one is the Intel Arc A380 and the second one is the Intel Arc A370M. So we know the nomenclature of these graphics chips will be something like the following:
- Intel Arc A300, A500, and A700 (performance-wise)
- Intel Arc A130, A150, and A170 (performance-wise)
- Intel Arc A800, A600, and A200 (referring to the number of Xe slices)
So the full branding would be something like (Note: following products are just used for naming comparisons and may not fall in the same performance category):
- Intel Arc A380
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
- AMD Radeon RX 6800
So now that we know of how Intel is going to call their Arc Alchemist graphics products, let’s move over to the specifications.
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU Architecture
The Intel ARC Alchemist GPUs are designed primarily for desktop and notebook platforms. From the information that we have currently gathered, the lineup will consist of two GPUs and each of those will have various SKUs, and each of those SKUs will be featured in a range of solutions for desktop graphics cards and mobility GPUs.
All Intel ARC Alchemist GPUs will utilize the TSMC 6nm process node and from what we already know, the Intel Xe-HPG Alchemist GPU features a Xe-Core which is the fundamental DNA of the 1st Gen ARC lineup. The Xe-Core is a compute block that is composed of 16 Vector Engines (256-bit per engine) and 16 Matrix Engines (1024-bit per engine). Each Vector Engine is composed of 8 ALUs so, in total, we are looking at 128 ALUs per Xe-Core. Each Matrix Engine block is also referred to as an XMX block which will handle tensor operations in both FP16 and INT8 modes. The Xe-Core further features its own dedicated L1 cache.
Intel fuses four Xe-Cores together to form a Render Slice which is composed of 4 Ray Tracing Units, four Sampler Units, Geometry/Rasterize/HiZ engines, and two Pixel Backend blocks with 8 units on each. These Render Slices are put together to form the main GPUs. The flagship is composed of an 8 Render Slice configuration which features 32 Xe-Cores, 512 Vector Engines, and 4096 ALUs. There will be different configurations with 2, 4, 6 Render Slices but we are focusing on the flagship part in this report.
Intel’s Xe HPG architecture will be able to achieve 1.5x higher clock rates than Xe LP and also deliver 1.5x higher performance per watt. This means we are looking at clocks in the 2.1 GHz range considering the Xe LP discrete GPUs were clocked at 1.4 GHz. It also means that Intel will be able to squeeze additional power out of the architecture, should they want to, without increasing the power draw (or reducing the power draw while keeping performance constant.
Out of the two GPUs, the first one will be known as DG2-512 (SOC-1). This is the top SKU and will be featured in mainstream and high-end designs. The second GPU is known as DG2-128 (SOC-2). This is an entry-level SKU and as such, will be featured in entry-level and mainstream designs. Each GPU has its own SKUs with different specifications. Some of the configurations that we have seen so far are listed in the following table:
Intel Xe-HPG Based Discrete Alchemist GPU Configurations:
|GPU Variant||Graphics Card Variant||GPU Die||Execution Units||Shading Units (Cores)||Memory Capacity||Memory Speed||Memory Bus||TGP|
|Xe-HPG 512EU||ARC A780?||Alchemist-512EU||512 EUs||4096||Up To 32/16 GB GDDR6||18 / 16 / 14 Gbps||256-bit||~225W (Desktops)
|Xe-HPG 384EU||ARC A750?||Alchemist-512EU||384 EUs||3072||Up To 12 GB GDDR6||16 / 14 Gbps||192-bit||150-200W (Desktops)
|Xe-HPG 256EU||ARC A580?||Alchemist-512EU||256 EUs||2048||Up To 8 GB GDDR6||16 / 14 Gbps||128-bit||60-80W (Laptops)|
|Xe-HPG 128EU||ARC A380?||Alchemist-128EU||128 EUs||1024||Up To 6 GB GDDR6||16 / 14 Gbps||96-bit||~75W (Desktops)|
|Xe-HPG 128EU||ARC A350?||Alchemist-128EU||128 EUs||1024||Up To 4 GB GDDR6||16 / 14 Gbps||64-bit||35-50W (Laptops)|
|Xe-HPG 96EU||ARC A330?||Alchemist-128EU||86 EUs||768||Up To 4 GB GDDR6||16 / 14 Gbps||64-bit||~35W (Laptops)|
Intel Arc Alchemist ‘DG2-512’ GPU Specifications – The Top GPU
The top Arc Alchemist GPU is going to be the DG2-512. It is said expected to measure 396.2mm2 which makes it larger than both NVIDIA’s GA014 and AMD’s Navi 22 chips. The DG2-512 powered GPUs are going to compete against NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3070(Ti) and AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT.
NVIDIA packs in tensor cores and much bigger RT/FP32 cores in its chips while AMD RDNA 2 chips pack a single ray accelerator unit per CU and Infinity Cache. Intel will also have dedicated hardware onboard its Alchemist GPUs for Raytracing & AI-assisted super-sampling tech.
The full die features 32 Xe Cores, 512 EUs, 4096 ALUs, a 256-bit bus interface, and up to 16 GB GDDR6 memory featuring clock speeds between 16-18 Gbps. Following are all the ARC 512 EU variants that we can expect based on the DG2-SOC1:
- 512 EU (4096 ALUs) / 16 GB @ Up To 18 Gbps / 256-bit / 225W (Desktops) & 120-150W (Laptops)
- 384 EU (3072 ALUs) / 12 GB @ Up To 16 Gbps / 192-bit / 150-200W (Desktops) & 80-120W (Laptops)
- 256 EU (2048 ALUs) / 8 GB @ Up To 16 Gbps / 128-bit / 60-80W (Laptops)
The Xe-HPG Alchemist 512 EU chip is suggested to feature clocks of around 2.2 – 2.5 GHz though we don’t know if these are the average clocks or the maximum boost clocks.
The TDP target for these chips seems to start at 120W for laptops and go all the way up to 300W for desktop parts. In either case, we can expect the final model to rock an 8+6 pin connector config, The reference model is also going to look very much like the drone marketing shot Intel put out during the ARC branding reveal.
Intel ARC Alchemist vs NVIDIA GA104 & AMD Navi 22 GPUs
|Graphics Card Name||Intel ARC A780?||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti||AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT|
|GPU Name||Alchemist DG-512||NVIDIA GA104||AMD Navi 22|
|Process Node||TSMC 6nm||Samsung 8nm||TSMC 7nm|
|FP32 Cores||32 Xe Cores||48 SM Units||40 Compute Units|
|Memory Capacity||16 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6X||12 GB GDDR6|
|Launch||Q1 2022||Q2 2021||Q1 2021|
Intel Arc Alchemist ‘DG2-128’ GPU Specifications – The Small GPU
The Intel DG2-128 is going to be the smaller Arc GPU, aiming at the entry-level and mainstream PC platforms. The GPU is said to measure around 147.7-154.9mm2. This is also much smaller than the 200mm2 TU117 die that the chip will be competing against. The GA107 die size isn’t known yet but it is likely to be around 160-180mm2. It is a bigger chip compared to the recently released AMD Navi 24 which measures only 107mm2.
There are two configs that feature the full-fat SKU with 1024 cores, a 96-bit, and a 64-bit variant with 6 GB and 4 GB memory capacity, respectively. The cut-down variant will come with 96 EUs or 768 cores and a 4 GB GDDR6 memory featured across a 64-bit bus interface. The chip is expected to feature a clock speed of around 2.2 – 2.5 GHz and have a sub 75 Watt power consumption which means we will be looking at connector-less graphics cards for the entry-level segment.
Following are all the ARC 128 EU variants that we can expect based on the DG2-SOC2:
- 128 EU (1024 ALUs) / 6 GB @ Up To 16 Gbps / 96-bit / ~75W (Desktops)
- 128 EU (1024 ALUs) / 4 GB @ Up To 16 Gbps / 64-bit / 35-30W (Laptops)
- 96 EU (768 ALUs) / 4 GB @ Up To 16 Gbps / 64-bit / ~35W (Laptops)
This GPU will be very similar to the DG1 GPU-based discrete SDV board however Alchemist will have a more improved architecture design and definitely more performance uplift over the first-gen Xe GPU architecture. This lineup is definitely going to be aimed at the entry-level desktop discrete market based on the specifications.
Intel ARC Alchemist vs NVIDIA GA106 & AMD Navi 24 GPUs
|Graphics Card Name||Intel ARC A350?||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2050||AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT||Intel ARC A380?||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050|
|GPU Name||ARC Alchemist DG2-128||NVIDIA GA107||AMD Navi 24||ARC Alchemist DG2-128||NVIDIA GA106|
|Process Node||TSMC 6nm||Samsung 8nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 6nm||Samsung 8nm|
|FP32 Cores||8 Xe Cores||16 SM Units||16 Compute Units||8 Xe Cores||24 SM Units|
|Memory Capacity||4 GB GDDR6||4 GB GDDR6||4 GB GDDR6||6 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6|
|Launch||Q1 2022||Q1 2022||Q2 2022||Q1 2022||Q1 2022|
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU Gaming Features
Intel knows that making a GPU is just one part of the whole graphics ecosystem and they are also creating a wide portfolio of features that will go into power their Arc GPU lineup. Raja Koduri and Lisa Pearce have highlighted that drivers play a crucial role in graphics development & they are collaborating with a list of developers and studios to optimize their GPUs for current and next-gen AAA games and creative applications.
For those who might have missed the Intel presentation at #CES2022 – We can’t wait to show you our collaboration using #UE5 and their new XeSS technology, showcasing at GDC. https://t.co/lhLneUi4DQ pic.twitter.com/CBItns5fLm
— Instinction Game (@InstinctionGame) January 5, 2022
Intel’s DG2 ARC Alchemist will offer the first true gaming drivers and that is its own initiative. NVIDIA and AMD have worked years to optimize their current suite of gaming drivers and to get Intel’s first discrete gaming GPUs on the same level as the competition is certainly a big deal. A range of driver-specific optimizations is also headed to Linux for Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs.
Technologies that will be incorporated by Intel Arc GPUs include:
- XeSS (Xe Super Sampling) AI-Assisted Super Sampling Technology
- XeGTAO (Ground-Truth Ambient Occlusion)
- Xe DeepLink Technology
- XeXMX with Xe-Cores
- Hardware-Accelerated Raytracing
- Intel GameDev Boost with 1oneAPI Tool Kit
Intel has shown several games that will utilize XeSS in their recent demos such as 505 Game’s Death Stranding, IO Interactive’s Hitman 3, and Exor Studio’s The Riftbreaker, all of which are fairly new AAA titles. Intel showcased both games running on an undisclosed Xe-HPG ARC Alchemist GPU. Both games were compared on 1080p resolution and 4K XeSS upscaling. Although the videos are of 1080p quality, you can still see that 4K XeSS really helps enhance the visual quality in both titles.
Intel ARC Alchemist 4K XeSS Super Resolution Demo In Hitman 3:
Intel ARC Alchemist 4K XeSS Super Resolution Demo In Riftbreakers:
The upscaled images are both sharp, less blurry and show the textures on various objects in more detail. We have a very in-depth interview with the principal engineer of XeSS here which talks about how the company plans on expanding the technology in their future updates. You can also see an internal 4K XeSS demo here along with further XeSS tech details here.
In addition to XeSS support, Intel also showed a brief demo of raytracing running in Metro Exodus on its own ARC Alchemist GPUs. Another key technology Intel talked about is XeGTAO which is the brand new Gound-Truth Ambient Occlusion method, an advanced form of screen-space ambient occlusion, that delivers greater accuracy for higher image quality.
Intel ARC Alchemist Raytracing Demo In Metro Exodus:
Intel XeSS Is Backwards Compatible With DG1 ‘Xe-LP’ & 11th Gen CPUs
Intel has also confirmed that the XeSS technology will be backward compatible with both Xe-LP-based DG1 GPUs & iGPUs on the 11th Gen Tiger Lake GPUs.
Intel also wants to leverage the workstation and content creation market with its Xe-HPG GPUs in applications such as 3DSMax where they can give NVIDIA’s Quadro and AMD Radeon PRO graphics cards some tough competition. It is specifically stated that Intel’s ARC GPUs can offer great graphics performance within content creation and development applications.
Intel also emphasized the driver release and how it plans to release them on regular basis and new releases every time a major title is launched. The company has gone on a major hiring spree for its graphics division, acquiring renowned names from the industry over the last couple of weeks. Since we mentioned drivers, Intel will also have integrated overclocking tools within their latest driver suite available when Arc Alchemist GPUs hit the shelves.
Intel ARC Alchemist Internal XeGTAO Demo:
Intel also announced that devs will have access to their XeSS technology through the DevMesh program and anyone from indie to AAA developers can submit a form from the official Intel DevMesh site. Intel is touting up to 2x FPS with their XeSS Super Resolution technology so it will be great to have more options for gamers & the tech also will be workable on both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.
Moving away from GPUs for a bit, Intel also discussed how they can leverage their hybrid design introduced in 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs within game engines. Intel and IO Interactive have been optimizing both the GPU and CPU sides of things. It is stated that developers can leverage back-ground tasks such as AI acceleration, Character Animation, Physics, Collisions, audio-processing, and more, leaving the performance cores with their leading single-threaded performance to be available for the more demanding tasks.
Intel DeepLink Demo Using ARC Alchemist & Iris Xe GPUs:
The last most interesting thing shared by Intel was their DeepLink technology which will help Xe-HPG ARC Alchemist GPUs work alongside Iris Xe to boost performance in creation applications. A demo showcasing a standalone ARC Alchemist GPU and another system with DeepLink where the same ARC Alchemist GPU is working alongside an Iris Xe GPU integrated on Intel’s CPUs is shown. The DeepLink system ended up with 40% faster transcoding in Handbrake as it was able to utilize more performance out of the Iris Xe chip.
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU Performance
Intel has been tight-lipped about the performance of its Arc Alchemist graphics. It is likely that the company will be releasing more benchmarks as they get super close to launching. But despite that, we know through some leaks where these GPUs will land. The DG2-512 is expected to be an NVIDIA GA104 & AMD Navi 22 competitor while the DG2-128 is expected to compete against NVIDIA GA106 / GA107 and AMD Navi 24 GPUs.
The flagship model should end up with around 18.5 TFLOPs FP32 compute which is 40% more than the RX 6700 XT but 9% lower than the NVIDIA RTX 3070. In terms of performance positioning, the top 512 EU variant is said to compete against the RTX 3070 / RTX 3070 Ti, the 384 EU variant is said to compete against the RTX 3060 / RTX 3060 Ti on desktops. On the laptop side, the 512 EU might be just as fast as the RTX 3080, 384 EU variant around RTX 3070 level and the 256 EU will end up against the RTX 3060.
Performance for the entry-level DG2-128 GPU is expected to land between the GeForce GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 SUPER but with raytracing capabilities. Based on initial leaks, the DG-128 has shown up to be around the same tier as GeForce RTX 3050 Ti while the DG2-512 has shown up on par with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti. This performance level, if priced correctly, will be highly competitive against similar solutions from NVIDIA and AMD.
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU Price & Availability
So that brings us to the next segment of Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs, and that is pricing & availability. One big advantage that Intel could have over AMD and NVIDIA is that with these cards, they might enter the sub-$250 US market which has not seen a worth-it product for some time. The recent AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT for $199 US has ended up as a failure in multiple perspectives while the RTX 3050 from NVIDIA for $249 US is better on the features/performance side but pricing is again going to be questionable.
Now Intel would also be bound by the same chip procurement issues that other companies are facing by relying on TSMC’s 6nm process node but the 6nm node itself isn’t that much-in-demand as compared to the 7nm process. So getting those wafers mostly is all about how much dollars you can flex at TSMC and Intel has really wide pockets. With that in mind, they could potentially have a bigger supply than AMD and one that can even challenge NVIDIA if they manage to price it right around the same level or lower. Lower will be a huge win for Intel but that remains to be seen. As one of Raja’s strategies, the top part may actually end up with an MSRP close to $499 US while the entry-level GPUs will end up with a top-bin price of $199-$249 US.
But availability is the more concerning thing. This is Intel’s first major discrete GPU launch for both desktop PCs and laptops. Intel has said a Q1 2022 of their Arc GPUs but they haven’t clearly said if that’s for both desktops and laptops or just one of them. Based on rumors, we have heard that the mobile parts will be introduced first and desktop parts could launch around Computex 2022. Intel has multiple AIBs, reportedly working with them for designing their next-gen Arc Alchemist GPUs & custom boards but that’s all we know so far.
Intel Arc GPU Roadmap & Future Products
Each generation of ARC GPU will be named after a fictional character classes from various games. The first is Alchemist and is the naming scheme attached to the first generation of Xe-HPG GPUs. According to Intel, the Alchemist name was derived from various fantasy games, including Final Fantasy XIV & Dungeons and Dragons. In those games, the Alchemist is able to craft powerful potions from basic herbs, elements, and other crafting materials.
The Alchemist will be the start of Intel’s ARC graphics journey as the company also revealed the codenames for its next-generation Xe-HPG lineups to be Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid. These characters were also embedded in the presentation slide during Architecture Day 2021. The site reports that the Battlemage name has been derived from the Elder Scrolls world, Celestial comes from several fantasies including the recent Marvel Eternals movie while Druid has been a common character in the fantasy RPG/RTS universe. As you can tell, these are all fantasy and mythological characters which sound cool, and it’s good to see Intel is thinking out of the box & going with more gaming-inspired names while their competitors use GPU naming conventions based on Scientists and Stars.
We have also seen rumors of the 5th Gen Arc GPU codename which is expected to be called ‘Elasti’ and expected for a 2026 release.
Currently, these characters serve as an icon for each of their respective ARC GPU generation but Intel is asking the community for input on what else could be done with them. Intel hints that they may offer ARC branded goodies such as T-Shirts with these characters and that sounds like a cool idea. One suggestion could be to feature these characters within future technology demos such as the recent XeSS showcase. With that said, you do get to see some really high-res images that you could use as wallpaper on the desktop and mobile devices to showcase your support for Intel’s ARC GPU family.
Intel ARC Gaming GPU Lineup
|GPU Family||Intel Xe-HPG||Intel Xe2-HPG||Intel Xe3-HPG||Intel Xe Next||Intel Xe Next Next|
|GPU Products||ARC Alchemist GPUs||ARC Battlemage GPUs||ARC Celestial GPUs||ARC Druid GPUs||ARC E*** GPUs|
|GPU Segment||Mainstream / High-End Gaming (Discrete)||Mainstream / High-End Gaming (Discrete)||Mainstream / High-End Gaming (Discrete)||Mainstream / High-End Gaming (Discrete)||Mainstream / High-End Gaming (Discrete)|
|GPU Gen||Gen 12||Gen 13?||Gen 14?||Gen 15?||Gen 16?|
|Process Node||TSMC 6nm||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Specs / Design||512 EUs / 1 Tile / 1 GPU||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA|
Overall, Arc Alchemist marks the start of a new era for Intel and its graphics team, bringing the next-gen GPUs for gamers, content creators, and power users across the globe. We can’t wait to see their GPUs in action this quarter!
The post Intel Arc Alchemist ‘Xe-HPG’ GPUs Specs, Performance, Price & Availability – Everything You Need To Know by Hassan Mujtaba appeared first on Wccftech.