Intel details its upcoming Arc graphics cards for desktops

Intel details its upcoming Arc graphics cards for desktops

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Intel Corp. on Thursday shared new technical details about its upcoming Arc A-Series lineup of graphics processing units for desktops.

The Arc A-Series, which is also known as the Alchemist series, is Intel’s first lineup of standalone GPUs for the desktop market. Previously, the company only shipped integrated graphics cards, or graphics cards that are built into a central processing unit and typically offer less performance than a standalone GPU. The Arc series is part of a broader effort by Intel to establish a presence in new parts of the chip market.

On launch, the Arc series includes four GPUs. 

The flagship GPU in the series is the A770, which includes 32 Xe processing cores. Every Xe core consists of 16 computing modules known as Vector Engines that are optimized to run video games and creative applications. Each Vector Engine, in turn, can carry out eight computations simultaneously.

The A770 combines its 32 Xe cores with a set of more specialized circuits. The chip features 512 XMX Engines, circuits optimized to speed up artificial intelligence software. According to Intel, the XMX Engines are designed to improve the performance of creative applications that incorporate AI features. 

Intel has also equipped the A770 with 32 computing modules optimized to run ray tracing algorithms. Ray tracing is an approach to rendering lighting effects that developers frequently implement in video games.

According to Intel, the A770’s circuits run at a frequency of 2.1GHz and can be combined with either 8 or 16 gigabytes of GDDR6 memory by computer manufacturers. The chip offers 560 gigabytes per second of memory bandwidth, a metric that measures how fast data travels between a GPU’s memory and computing circuits. The metric directly influences GPU performance. 

“When our add-in card (AIC) partners build their own versions of Arc A770 cards, most will come with 8 GB of GDDR6 memory,” Intel graphics marketing specialist Zachary Hill detailed in a blog post. “The Intel-branded card (IBC) — our special A770 Limited Edition GPU — features double that.”

Intel will bring the A770 to market alongside three other Arc graphics cards for desktops. The three chips include 8, 24 and 28 Xe cores, respectively, as well as 128 to 448 XMX Engines optimized to run AI software. Furthermore, each chip includes multiple ray tracing modules.

The release of the Arc chip series’ specifications comes a few weeks after Intel debuted new GPUs for the data center market. The Flex Series of data center GPUs includes two chips on launch. Intel says that the chips can be used to run video processing applications, cloud-based video game streaming services, AI software and virtual desktop environments.

Intel stated in February that it was expecting to ship more than 4 million standalone GPUs by year’s end. Further down the line, the company plans to launch a series of chips dubbed Falcon Shores that will combine GPUs and GPUs in a single product. The chips series, which is expected to start shipping in 2024, will be optimized for the data center market.

Nvidia Corp., Intel’s top competitor in the standalone GPU market, is expected to debut new graphics cards for consumers later this month. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is also preparing to roll out new GPUs with an upgraded chip architecture that promises to provide 50% higher performance per watt than its current-generation technology.

Image: Intel

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