Intel has officially unveiled its first graphics card, as well as the Intel Arc brand, which will be used for any future graphics attempts. Alchemist is the codename for the first generation of cards, which will be released in early 2022. Apart from the fact that the cards exist, Intel has revealed two crucial features that will compete with AMD and Nvidia.
The first card, codenamed DG2, will enable real-time ray tracing as well as “AI-accelerated super sampling.” At this time, we don’t know how the supersampling works, although it sounds a lot like Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology. Nvidia’s technology employs the supersampling process on RTX graphics cards with dedicated Tensor cores after training an A.I. model with game visuals.
In any case, the combination of the two features puts some pressure on Nvidia and a lot of pressure on AMD. FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is AMD’s DLSS counterpart, although it doesn’t use A.I. to enhance the image like DLSS does.
Both features demonstrate Intel’s willingness to compete in the market for discrete graphics cards. Ray tracing has become the new norm for big-budget AAA video games, and because it’s so demanding on hardware, it necessitates the adoption of a supersampling technology like DLSS to keep games at tolerable frame rates.
Intel appears to be aware of this. Intel recently revealed that it had hired the architect behind Nvidia’s real-time ray tracing and DLSS. Intel hasn’t detailed how its feature works yet, but the fact that it’s akin to DLSS rather than FSR is a good indicator.
Intel graphics in the future
Apart than those two main characteristics, Intel hasn’t said much about its next graphics card. A montage of games operating on pre-production silicon, including Forza Horizon 4, Psychonauts 2, and Metro Exodus, was shown in the video introduction. Unfortunately, frame rates were not shown in the gameplay demos, and an Intel representative told us that the company isn’t ready to make performance claims just yet.
According to leaked benchmarks, a pre-production device ran at 2,200MHz, which is faster than most consumer graphics cards. This doesn’t offer much about performance, but it does suggest that Intel’s Xe-HPG design might go rather far.
Intel Arc will be the brand name for all future graphics activities, including hardware, software, and services. “Every game, gamer, and creator has a story, and every story has an arc,” according to the Arc name. Put the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme on repeat.
Although the name might be better without the explanation, it’s evident that Intel is going all-in on the gamer look with this brand. Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid are the codenames for three forthcoming generations of Intel graphics cards. Intel said it will announce additional specifics about Alchemist later this year, adding that the cards will be available in PCs and laptops in the first half of 2022.
Full support for DirectX 12 Ultimate is available on select first-generation cards, allowing them to use features like DirectX Raytracing and variable rate shading. Again, Intel isn’t ready to share any additional information on this front, but we’ll keep you posted if we learn anything new.