Today is when Intel does its third-quarter 2021 financial disclosures, and there’s one little tidbit in the earnings presentation about its upcoming new discrete GPU offerings. The earnings are usually a chance to wave the flag of innovation about what’s to come, and this time around Intel is confirming that its first-generation discrete graphics with the Xe-HPG architecture will be on shelves in Q1 2022.

Intel has slowly been disclosing the features for its discrete gaming graphics offerings. Earlier this year, the company announced the branding for its next-gen graphics, called Arc, and with that the first four generations of products: Alchemist, Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid. It’s easy to see that we’re going ABCD here. Technically at that disclosure, in August 2021, Intel did state that Alchemist will be coming in Q1, the reaffirmation of the date today in the financial disclosures indicates that they’re staying as close to this date as possible.

Intel has previously confirmed that Alchemist will be fully DirectX 12 Ultimate compliant – meaning that alongside RT, it will offer variable-rate shading, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback. This will make it comparable in core graphics features to current-generation AMD and NVIDIA hardware. Although it has taken a few years now to come to fruition, Intel has made it clear for a while now that the company has intended to become a viable third player in the discrete graphics space. Intel’s odyssey, as previous marketing efforts have dubbed it, has been driven primarily by developing the Xe family of GPU microarchitectures, as well as the GPUs based on those architectures. Xe-LP was the first out the door last year, as part of the Tiger Lake family of CPUs and the DG1 discrete GPU. Other Xe family architectures include Xe-HP for servers and Xe-HPC for supercomputers and other high-performance compute environments.

The fundamental building block of Alchemist is the Xe Core. For manufacturing, Intel is turning to TSMC’s N6 process to do it. Given Intel’s Q1’22 release timeframe, Intel’s Alchemist GPUs will almost certainly be the most advanced consumer GPUs on the market with respect to manufacturing technology. Alchemist will be going up against AMD’s Navi 2x chips built on N7, and NVIDIA’s Ampere GA10x chips built on Samsung 8LPP. That said, as AMD can attest to, there’s more to being competitive in the consumer GPU market than just having a better process node. In conjunction with the use of TSMC’s N6 process, Intel is reporting that they’ve improved both their power efficiency (performance-per-watt) and their clockspeeds at a given voltage by 50% compared to Xe-LP. Note that this is the sum total of all of their improvements – process, logic, circuit, and architecture – so it’s not clear how much of this comes from the jump to TSMC N6 from Intel 10SF, and how much comes from other optimizations.

Exactly what performance level and pricing Intel will be pitching its discrete graphics to is currently unknown. The Q1 launch window puts CES (held the first week of January) as a good spot to say something more.

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  • Danvelopment - Friday, October 22, 2021 - link

    Depending on how the first four go, there's a good chance Eabod is next. Reply
  • mattbg - Friday, October 22, 2021 - link

    It's a great point. I tried AMD exactly once at a point where they were better on paper, and never went back after experiencing their drivers. For better or worse, I don't even look at AMD anymore. Reply
  • KrazyAttack - Friday, October 22, 2021 - link

    That seems foolish, their drivers are great. Reply
  • Qasar - Saturday, October 23, 2021 - link

    i wonder how long ago this was. i have had issues with both intel AND amd's drivers, neither of them are perfect. my x99 and 5830 are still in use today, and i can't install the newest drivers for the sata ports or network, both have issues still Reply
  • yeeeeman - Saturday, October 23, 2021 - link

    I must agree. AMD does have the upper hand in performance and price right now but their drivers, even for laptops are hit and miss still. Swapped a few months ago my HP with 6700hq and GTX 950m to a Lenovo with 4800h and gtx1650. Right from the get go I had issues with the second monitor, with getting out of sleep being very slow and sometimes just ending up in a blue screen, mouse I being disconnected for no reason...issues that I simply did not have with the previous laptop. Actually with the previous intel laptop and Intel igpu I didn't have any issue really. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, October 25, 2021 - link

    Normally I'd say you should give them another go, but right now it's not really possible to get hold of *any* modern GPU for reasonable money. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    AMD drivers are fine. It's not the frame pacing era anymore. Reply
  • RSAUser - Monday, November 8, 2021 - link

    The issues being that bad haven't existed in over a decade, nowadays I had more issues with Nvidia drivers than AMD ones (RTX 2060 vs my old R9 290 machine). Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, October 25, 2021 - link

    Iris with 96EUs is indeed faster than Vega 8, albeit with an area deficit that's slightly larger than the performance advantage. Vega is now extremely well-optimized in that regard, though.

    Accounting for the differences between Vega and RDNA 2 and factoring in Intel's claims about performance improvements for Xe-HPG, plus expectations from N6, I think we can infer that Xe-HPG should be a very worthy competitor. It's mostly going to come down to price and availability, though.
    Reply
  • Hixbot - Monday, November 1, 2021 - link

    While I agree that Intel has solid drivers for other ICs. It's not enough to write a solid GPU driver for a new SKU and leave it there. Patches and bug fixes are not the only concern, GPU drivers benefit from frequent optimization even at the per-game level. This speed of driver updates we have never seen from Intel. Intel will have alot of work ahead of them if they want to keep pace with Nvidia, who often work with Developers ahead of launch to release a "game-ready driver". Reply

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