Today marks the launch of Intel’s Arc A-series family of graphics cards, the company’s first discrete graphics cards to take on industry titans AMD and Nvidia. For starters, Team Blue is building its Arc GPUs for laptops, with entry-level Arc 3 models debuting in laptops starting at $899. More powerful models called Arc 5 and Arc 7 are expected to arrive early this summer, in higher-end machines. The company also teased its first desktop Arc graphics card at the very end of its presentation, showing off a much beefier design than the DG1 card it shipped to developers last year. Here’s what you need to know about Intel’s Arc announcements.
First of all, the Arc series of graphics cards should be full featured models, with support for the full DirectX 12 Ultimate feature set (ray tracing, VRS, mesh shading, sampler feedback) plus DirectStorage and XeSS AI scaling. This puts them on par with Nvidia in terms of most features, and ahead of AMD which doesn’t yet have a time-scaling solution.
Xe Cores RT Units VRAM Availability Arc 3 A350M 8 8 4 GB GDDR6 Now Arc 3 A370M 6 6 4 GB GDDR6 Now Arc 5 A550M 16 16 8 GB GDDR6 Summer 22 Arc 7 A730M 24 24 12 GB GDDR6 Summer 22 Arc 7 A770M 32 32 16 Go GDDR6 Summer ’22
Intel has detailed some specs for each of the five models announced so far, including Xe core count, ray tracing units, and GDDR6 memory allocation. Given the relatively rapid scaling across families – we see a doubling in core count and VRAM from the high-end Arc 3 to Arc 5, then another doubling to the high-end Arc 7 – we could start to see some very impressive performance from these top of the range models.
The quoted frame rates are worth taking with a grain of salt, but they are promising.
In terms of performance, we got our first look at the frame rates expected for the A370M in a range of games. Intel has quoted frame rates of 60fps or higher at 1080p average settings in games like Hitman 3, Doom Eternal, Destiny 2, Wolfenstein Youngblood, and The Witcher 3. In esports games like Fortnite, Rocket League and Valorant, the A370 is capable of delivering 90-115 fps when paired with a Core i7-12700H, which is quite respectable. These results seem to put the A370 in the region of the desktop GTX 1050, although with so many different confounders (detailed settings, game scene selection, CPU and RAM pairings) it’s hard to say for sure. without having the equipment at hand.
A video interlude also revealed frame rate numbers for a few other titles, including LoL and CS:GO.
We also got to see some early XeSS results, with 4K side-by-side of an unreleased sci-fi game called Dolmen. It’s hard to read much on this, given YouTube compression and the fact that it’s not a side-by-side comparison, but there’s clearly more detail evident at the high end XeSS without any noticeable visual artifacts. For what it’s worth, we’ve slipped a zoom in below if you want to quickly switch between the two shots to see the differences.
XeSS is expected to be supported in “over 20 games” when it launches in early summer, including Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Grid Legends, Ghostwire Tokyo, Death Stranding Director’s Cut, Bloodhunt, Chorus, Arcadegeddon, Chivalry 2 , Hitman 3, Enlisted, Super People, The Settlers, Anvil, and the aforementioned Dolmen.
Intel also showed off the content creation chops of the new GPUs. One demo involved AI-accelerated AI scaling via Topaz Video Enhance AI, where an A370M was 2.3 times faster at AI scaling than a graphics chip Integrated Iris Xe of a latest generation Intel laptop. Team Blue also announced that its Arc GPUs would be the first in the industry to support AV1 decoding and encoding; existing AMD and Nvidia designs only support AV1 decoding. AV1 is a super-efficient video codec that can deliver smaller file sizes with the same quality, or better quality with the same file size, so these laptops could be smart choices for content creators producing streaming videos or games. Similarly, Intel claimed that using various acceleration technologies in its new discrete GPUs increased encoding times by 31-60% in applications such as Cyberlink, DaVinci Resolve, and Handbrake.
At 1080p 5Mbps, the AV1 stream (right) looks noticeably more detailed than the more common h.264.
Intel’s stream also included a preview of its new software Control Center, aptly named Control. Like Nvidia’s GeForce Experience or AMD Software’s Adrenaline Edition, you’ll be able to download and install game drivers, tweak GPU performance, streaming tools, and more. And unlike Nvidia’s offering, it will be usable without a connection – hooray.
Intel Arc Desktop GPUs are now firmly on the horizon…
Finally, that Intel Arc desktop GPU tease – there’s not much to do here, but we can see a more advanced design than the DG1 board that was shipped to developers, with two fans and a larger PCB and fully charged. Interestingly, this video is titled “Limited Edition Reveal” on the Arc Intel websitewhich suggests that other designs are also planned.
It’s all exciting, and we can’t wait to test Intel’s first Arc designs in the flesh – hopefully, first on laptops, then on desktops. AMD’s revitalization has been great for consumers, and we hope Intel’s entry into the discrete graphics space will further increase competition. After a few years of sky-high graphics card prices, this might be just what we need.
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Article source https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2022-intel-arc-graphics-launch-in-laptops-first-performance-figures-revealed