Intel Arc Alchemists's launch isn't going according to plan - but then again, most of the world isn't. According to an Intel blog post penned by Lisa Pearce, Vice President and General Manager for the Visual Compute Group, Intel's Arc Alchemist launch has been hit by software development snags that have pushed availability forwards in all designs, from mobile GPUs through desktop-class Arc cards - whose initial release seems to be locked for OEMs and system integrators. The blog post also states the impact of recent COVID-19 outbreaks in China (which we've covered before) impacting component availability.
According to Pearce, Intel is pushing through the issues - particularly the production ones - with a number of OEMs, such as Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, HP, and Asus, in order to increase the number of delivered designs with Intel's Arc A3560 and A370 graphics. If you're hoping for more graphics grunt, however, and were looking at Intel's Arc A750 and A770, you'll have to wait until early Summer.
Intel's work in delivering full-performance desktop graphics solutions is even more convoluted. According to the company, desktop Intel Arc graphics will only be initially available through OEMs and system integrator. According to Pearce, this is being done in order to control the number of hardware configurations that can be paired with the company's first high-performance desktop GPUs. Compatibility is one of the pitfalls of PC components; there are a myriad of possible hardware configurations that can be paired with a latest-gen graphics card, and GPU manufacturers such as Nvidia and AMD know full well how this adds to driver complexity and potential performance pitfalls that come along with it. It might take a while before you can actually acquire an Intel ARC graphics card from the shelves of your local PC hardware store.
Adding to the staggered Arc launch, Intel's blog clarifies that initial roll-out of entry-level Arc desktop cards (A3 series) will first occur in China starting in Q2, with a later in the year launch for A5 and A7 series cards. This makes sense for a launch troubled by materials and component shortages as well as supply chain bottlenecks that are still being felt: China stands as the world's nevralgic center for materials and chip processing. Once again, worldwide roll-out of desktop-class Arc cards will come later.
None of these elements are particularly surprising; we've already covered the staggered launch of Intel's Arc Alchemist lineup. Originally slated for worldwide availability, we were as surprised as you were when Intel announced limited, localized availability of Arc GPUs through a partnership with Samsung for the South Korean market, before increasing availability on both Samsung and other partners' designs around the globe. Adding to this is one particularly egregious moment for Intel's software development efforts, after the company failed to produce a promised day-0 driver release for Elden Ring that never materialized.
Delays and execution problems on Intel's Arc launch are happening even as Intel recently promoted Raja Koduri to the position of Executive Vice President for his contributions to Intel over the years. Of course, the consistent software and hardware delays don't paint a picture of perfect execution. But we're living strange times in the PC space - and in the world. Perhaps Intel knows more about its Arc GPUs than it's letting on.