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Intel Arc GPU Guide Suggests 10th Gen CPU or Newer Required

Intel Arc Alchemist delay rumor
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has published a page of system requirements for its newly released Arc desktop graphics cards as part of a quick start guide. The guide features a list of supported hardware configurations, but the paucity of confirmed system support is eyebrow raising – only 10th, 11th, and 12th Gen Intel Core processors are given a wholehearted thumbs up for Arc GPU support, and there is no mention of AMD processor based system support at all.

Intel quick start guide excerpt listing 10th, 11th, and 12tth Gen Intel CPUs and related motherboards.

(Image credit: Intel)

Is Resizable BAR Essential? Yes, No, Maybe.

According to the support document, before you start using your Intel Arc GPU you should make sure Resizable BAR is enabled. Resizable BAR is a GPU memory access feature also known as ReBAR for short (or Smart Access Memory on AMD CPU-based systems).    

In the motherboard section of the document Intel Support indicates that ReBAR is a requirement. Elsewhere, the company lists it only as a requirement for "optimal performance." A step-by-step guide to turning on ReBAR is provided, and ReBAR is discussed in four out of the six FAQs.

It is not made clear at all whether ReBAR is an essential option that would be system-breakingly bad to ignore, or whether those who don't enable it will see some performance hits in certain apps/games. Other GPU vendors don't make such a big fuss about ReBAR, so we aren't sure why it would be critical for Intel Arc users.

A glimmer of hope regarding some clarity about ReBAR requirements is provided when the support document says the Intel Driver and Support Assistant (IDSA) can be used to "quickly automatically detect if your system is ready for Intel Arc discrete graphics." So we downloaded it, ran it, and its menus seemed to simply open various support web pages. Later in the Intel Support document about Arc, it is indicated that you run IDSA after you have installed an Arc GPU to see if ReBAR is enabled. That isn’t as helpful as we hoped.

Intel's overtly supported hardware configurations start with the 10th Gen Core processors, but even this is more complicated than that statement indicates. In a FAQ section, Intel admits that "support for resizable BAR on 10th Gen platforms will vary." 

The guide is a bit confusing, and Intel should clear it up. Potential buyers should only jump-in if they have one of the newest Intel CPU based systems for now and should wait for third party reviews. A better description of the system requirements and tests with and without ReBAR across various platforms ciykd b egekofykm tii,

In case you missed it, Intel and its partners released the first flurry of Arc A380 graphics cards on Wednesday, with initial availability limited to China. When we get our hands on the new cards, we'll test them for considerations for our list of the best graphics cards.

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • InvalidError
    I can easily imagine ReBAR becoming a requirement for future GPUs to eliminate the need to develop, maintain and optimize both ReBAR and a windowed BAR code paths in drivers and abstractions to accommodate either at higher levels.
    Reply
  • gg83
    InvalidError said:
    I can easily imagine ReBAR becoming a requirement for future GPUs to eliminate the need to develop, maintain and optimize both ReBAR and a windowed BAR code paths in drivers and abstractions to accommodate either at higher levels.
    Would Nvidia be able to compete? Unless they develop a cpu maybe?
    Reply
  • helper800
    I can see this becoming a thing as far as; Intel systems require Intel or Nvidia graphics cards, or AMD systems require AMD graphics cards and the like. It will be a dark day in PC hardware if the aforementioned becomes a thing.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Intel probably just wants to push people onto newer platforms sooner.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    InvalidError said:
    I can easily imagine ReBAR becoming a requirement for future GPUs to eliminate the need to develop, maintain and optimize both ReBAR and a windowed BAR code paths in drivers and abstractions to accommodate either at higher levels.

    No. It's not that much more work. They use dynamic dependency injectable templates when compiling code and data to send to the GPU. So there's high level function calls that change to all map to the same functions. But the execution of each function varies based on capabilities.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    gg83 said:
    Would Nvidia be able to compete? Unless they develop a cpu maybe?
    Why? ReBAR is a standard PCI thing. The only things required to support it is PCI hardware that has the extra address bits, firmware updated to support it and drivers written accordingly. It doesn't have anything to do with GPUs or CPUs specifically.

    hotaru.hino said:
    Intel probably just wants to push people onto newer platforms sooner.
    There are three obvious reasons for dropping support for legacy/non-ReBAR systems:
    1- simplified hardware development
    2- simplified driver development
    3- if you look at AMD/s ReBAR/SAM, ditching the 256MB BAR limit can get you 5-10% extra performance

    It wouldn't make much sense for Intel to waste driver development effort on supporting legacy/non-ReBAR which yields substantially worse performance on products that will mostly ship through OEM as part of complete new systems.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    hotaru.hino said:
    Intel probably just wants to push people onto newer platforms sooner.

    That's like pushing people into a Ferrari frame and putting a Prius engine in it. It doesn't make sense.

    Intel has prided itself on turnkey stability and integration. While initial releases look poor performance and stability wise, I would place dollars to donuts they are going hard core corporate customers who want that simple turnkey support/installation. Because these are not going to appeal to most gamers. And how many corporate users really care about gaming GPU updates? Answer: None. So if you get basic functionality down, then the rest is irrelevant.* Provided as it's better than built in graphics.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    It seems clear to me that the hardware requirements listed here are the requirements for enabling the ReBAR feature, not the requirements for the GPU itself.

    So yes, it follows that a guide for enabling ReBAR would state that ReBAR compatible platform is required to turn on ReBAR.

    But, I'm not seeing anything that implies ReBAR is required to use or install the GPU, in general. Because the linked quick start guide isn't about that topic
    Reply
  • rluker5
    "Resizable BAR must be enabled for optimal performance in all applications using Intel® Arc™ A-Series Graphics. Initial support includes the following Intel®-based systems. Support for more platforms will be added at a later time. "
    Looks like "for optimal performance in all applications" to me which is then the same as AMD or Nvidia.

    Also in reference to the newer cpu gens, maybe it is for Deep Link? I thought AMD's requirement for their igpu/dgpu link was much more stringent back in the Athlon days where it would only work with a couple apus and a couple low end dgpus.
    Reply
  • AgentBirdnest
    Giroro said:
    It seems clear to me that the hardware requirements listed here are the requirements for enabling the ReBAR feature, not the requirements for the GPU itself.
    Yeah, this seemed totally obvious to me...

    And also, what the hell is wrong with this article? A lot. Typos everywhere (including the subtitle), most egregious of which is this monstrosity: "A better description of the system requirements and tests with and without ReBAR across various platforms ciykd b egekofykm tii, "
    Article: "Guide Suggests 10th Gen CPU or Newer Required." Picture: "Support for more platforms will be added later in time."
    Article: "There is no mention of AMD processor based system support at all." ... Huh ??? What about this bit that was apparently overlooked in the picture: "Additional platforms with Resizable BAR / Smart Access Memory enabled may also support Intel© Arc™ A-series graphics."

    This article seems clickbaity and poorly written.

    I'd like a bit of clarification on the last bit in the article, that Toms will "test them for considerations for our list of the best graphics cards" once they get their hands on them. Will you be trying to get a card from China? Or are you waiting for a global release to review it?
    Reply
  • osfanbuff63
    helper800 said:
    I can see this becoming a thing as far as; Intel systems require Intel or Nvidia graphics cards, or AMD systems require AMD graphics cards and the like. It will be a dark day in PC hardware if the aforementioned becomes a thing.
    I don't think that would pass anti-trust honestly, but I could see it.
    Reply