Intel’s Arc graphics card (opens in a new tab) may have taken a bit of a critical beating, but Intel is planning “multiple variants” of the Arc for 2023, says Intel graphics guru Raja Koduri in an interview on technology website Gadget 360 (opens in a new tab) (via Tom’s Hardware (opens in a new tab)). Koduri also says that Intel’s focus with the Arc is to find the core of the PC gaming crowd with 200W to 225W single power connector GPUs, rather than chasing the competition with 600W monsters.
That Intel is still committed to Arc is the most important aspect that emerges from the interview. Rumors abound of partial or wholesale cancellations of Arc graphics chips. So it’s great to see Koduri answer unequivocally when asked if Intel will stick with the Arc roadmap, including next-gen Battlemage and Celestial GPUs. “Yes, absolutely,” says Koduri.
Koduri doesn’t give away any details, but says that Intel plans to release “a lot more” Arc GPU variations in 2023, now that the hard work of creating the original Alchemist hardware architecture in cards like the Intel Arc A770 and A750 is done. “We want to iterate quickly so we can catch up with the competition in each segment,” says Koduri.
Koduri also said that the goal of Arc was to produce efficient, usable graphics cards.
“Performance per watt, or delivering higher performance with lower power, is my top priority. There will always be someone with some skill who can say, ‘I’ll give you more juice,’ but my focus is lower power. The other problem I find with just increasing power and boasting benchmarks is that while good from a marketing point of view, [there is a limited] the number of PC users who can simply buy such a card and plug it in. That dramatically reduces your overall market, doesn’t it?”
For Koduri, that means delivering GPUs that can work with a single power connector. “My priority at this point is to get that core audience, with one power plug. And that can get you up to 200-225W. If you nail that, and something a little bit above and a little bit below, it all falls into place,” he says.
Koduri also emphasized that Intel is committed to fixing the driver issues that have hurt the Arc’s performance in older DX9 and DX11 games that rely on high levels of draw calls.
“The two APIs that are the most challenging for draw calls are DirectX 9 and DirectX 11. The DX9 driver update is going to happen relatively soon and DX11 shortly after that. They are imminent. There will be some nice announcements. It will make a huge [difference], we are not talking five or ten percent. In some cases it will be much, much bigger,” reckons Koduri.
And so it has proved, with the latest driver release boosting performance by up to 80% in some DX9 titles (opens in a new tab). With the latest graphics card releases from Nvidia and AMD maintaining sky-high and frankly unaffordable prices, having Intel on the scene and targeting the mainstream heart of the market can be crucial.
Intel’s Arc A750 and A770 currently go for between $290 and $350, a small fraction of the $1,000-plus the latest high-end cards command. If Intel can polish the Arc driver enough to deliver truly consistent performance, the first generation cards alone would be pretty compelling, let alone any future GPUs.