Intel has said its first discrete Arc desktop GPUs will, as planned, go on sale this month. But only in China.
The x86 giant’s foray into discrete graphics processors has been difficult. Intel has baked 2D and 3D acceleration into its chipsets for years but watched as AMD and Nvidia swept the market with more powerful discrete GPU cards.
Intel announced it would offer discrete GPUs of its own in 2018 and promised shipments would start in 2020. But it was not until 2021 that Intel launched the Arc brand for its GPU efforts and promised discrete graphics silicon for desktops and laptops would appear in Q1 2022.
A certain viral pandemic and its impact on Chinese manufacturing capabilities and distribution meant that promise could not be fulfilled, leading to a belated admission that the devices were running late and would first appear in China some time during Q2 2022.
Presumably that’s because the Arc cards are being assembled in China and what with all the logistics chaos in the Middle Kingdom right now, it was decided to kick off shipping in that nation before Intel blew through another deadline.
Which brings us to today, which Intel has chosen to announced that one discrete Xe-architecture Arc model – the A380 – will indeed be available inside PCs sold in China by the end of Q2. Acer, ASUS, Gigabyte, Gunnir, HP, and MSI will all sell machines packing the GPU. Prices and specs have not been revealed by Intel. Laptop versions of the product remain elusive.
Essentially, the cards are shipping in PCs and will be available as components in China, followed by system builds and components shipping in the rest of the world.
The A380 is pitched at gamers and content creators, and is part of the low-end Arc 3 series that will be topped by Arc 5 and Arc 7 models, all due later this year.
Intel says the A380 has 6GB of DDR6 RAM, and can run games in 1080p at 60 frames per second, drive four 4K displays at 120Hz refresh rates, and crunch 8K media without undue strain.
The Register suggests not trying to get into China to acquire an Arc-powered PC, because visas are very hard to come by at present and visitors must quarantine for at least 14 days on arrival. Even if you get in ASAP, Intel has said Arc hardware will “shortly” start to become available outside China. The first Arc 5 and 7 kit is promised in the next couple of months. Some Arc 7 units for laptops are already on sale but have proven hard to find. ®
Congrats to Intel’s marketing team for choosing the name A380 as the GPU shares that moniker with Airbus’ biggest jet – a product that was expected to revolutionize commercial aviation but instead proved to have few viable markets than one might expect and was discontinued after 16 years of production.