A popular TechTuber released an explosive-if-true vlog over the weekend, claiming simply that “Intel Arc is over,” with a thumbnail showing an Arc graphics card sinking like the Titanic. Arc so far hasn't cracked our list of the best graphics cards, but we're only dealing with the lowest tier offering. Today, Raja Koduri, EVP and GM of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) Group at Intel Corporation, responded to the idea that Intel would fold its Arc graphics card development activities with a shrug.
The video in question comes from Moore’s Law is Dead (MLID), titled “Intel’s Xe Odyssey is Over: Discrete Arc is Effectively Cancelled.” There are 'sources' for the speculation, and the difficulties Intel has faced with launching the Arc Alchemist graphics cards are well-known, but... let's just say MLID doesn't have the best track record. Let's not forget his breakout video claiming RX 5700 XT would launch at $249 while delivering RTX 2080 performance either, a video that has long since been delisted.
The video contains a quartet of what are allegedly direct quotes from MLID sources, but it only needs a cursory glance over the lines to see that there is a degree of hedging going on. Words and phrases like “effectively” in the video title, ”isn’t a lot of optimism,” and “from what I am seeing.” However, source three and four look more definitive.
MLID ends his video by citing a report by Tom’s Hardware, where Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger says the company will likely exit more businesses while it attempts to focus efforts on core competencies. Intel recently began to wind down Optane memory, for example, but it has areas much further removed from core business than discrete graphics. Moreover, no hint has been given to the public or investors that Arc graphics cards might be on the chopping block.
Raja and the lost Arc?
Earlier today, Koduri was promoting the upcoming release of the Arc A770 graphics card with a photo from Intel’s Toronto validation labs. An enterprising Tweeter asked about the hot gossip regarding the demise of Arc and garnered quite a full answer.
we are 🤷♂️ about these rumors as well. They don’t help the team working hard to bring these to market, they don’t help the pc graphics community..one must wonder, who do they help?..we are still in first gen and yes we had more obstacles than planned to overcome, but we persisted…September 12, 2022
Raja says he's unaware of how and why these rumors start circulating. He characterized the chitter-chatter as unhelpful for the PC graphics community, though he admitted that first gen Arc had put up more obstacles than expected “but we persisted.”
Koduri didn’t issue a categorical denial about discrete Arc graphics card developments winding down, but very possibly didn’t want to engage with any rumor spreaders with a direct rebuff. With all the hedging in the MLID Vlog, despite the arresting headline, we are tempted to classify the demise of Arc rumors as a tempest in a teapot for the time being.
All indications are that Intel will very shortly announce retail availability of its Arc A770, A750, and A580 desktop graphics cards, joining the Arc A380 that we already reviewed (using a sample acquired from China). Driver updates continue to come at a fast pace, and several issues that we encountered during testing have since been addressed (like our Acer XB280HK 4K display only running at 640x480 in Windows).
Pricing and performance will have a lot to do with how well Arc GPUs might be received. The ASRock Arc A380 Challenger (opens in new tab) remains backordered on Newegg, perhaps because of curious tech people wanting one for review, and no doubt helped by its aggressive pricing. We can't rule out limited supply either, but if the higher performance Arc GPUs rate significantly higher on our GPU benchmarks hierarchy and come with similarly aggressive pricing coupled with improved drivers, it's far too early to claim this ship has sailed.
Which is a long way of saying that Intel is, apparently, not buying enough adspace from MLID.
I am curious if they price this gen so it sells despite the perf limits, which would probably get better reviews and more love from consumers, or if they price it as if it were awesome to avoid getting pigeonholed as the budget pick, which I feel like would amount to sitting out a gen while they continue to catch up.
So for newer games it should be pretty good at price/performance compared to the competition.
They could shift focus to the things that Arc does well such as encoding and professional workloads. (Would have been a somewhat logical approach if they had started that way, and than applied gaming after they had everything worked out)
If you want to do real R&D, you need real field data and the best way to acquire it is to start low-key with low expectations instead of aiming for the moon and smashing into the boardroom's ceiling.
Then my question would be where are the higher performing cards? Shouldn't be any reason to hold them back if they want field testing and feedback.
No, it seems to me they knew they had problems with gaming and were forced to launch anyway. And are holding the big cards back because they don't want to ruin what good will they have left. And if the investors don't see it the same way as the engineers, they might shift focus to datacenter only.
The A380 failed to impress and revealed more teething issues than previously expected. You don't want to rush into failing more spectacularly at a higher and more visible price point with much higher expectations and lower tolerance to sub-par experience. The low-end where people are somewhat desperate to get something better than the current status-quo who are being grossly under-served if not outright ignored is where you test waters.