Intel Arc Alchemist Launch Allegedly Delayed, Here's When The First Cards Might Ship

Intel GPU Concept Hero
Once upon a time, it was thought desktop Arc Alchemist cards would be out in January, but January came and went without a peep. Folks latched onto rumors that they'd be here in March, but then Intel instead promised cards for Q2 this year in an investor meeting last month.

What about now? The latest information from leaksters seems to suggest that "Q2" will end up being May June, rather than earlier in the quarter. The bearer of this news is Igor over at Igor's Lab, who cites "several different sources," albeit without naming any. Igor's a respected reporter, though, and isn't known for spreading wild rumors.

If you talk to hardware enthusiasts about Alchemist, the general buzz seems to be one of cautious optimism. Folks are eager for there to be a third competitor in the graphics race and nobody really doubts Intel's ability to execute on silicon. The concern, as it ever is with GPUs, is all about the graphics drivers. Driver software for GPUs is notoriously complex and difficult to get right; even AMD and NVIDIA still have their foibles now and again.

That seems to be exactly the reason for the slight delay . At least, that's what Igor thinks, anyway; based on his recent experience with Intel's DG1, he thinks that even if the Alchemist cards are ready, the drivers simply aren't up to par. Using the latest drivers for DG1, he describes "considerable problems" in AAA games, like image artifacts, poor performance, and even crashes.

intel dg1 gpu
Intel's DG1 low-power discrete GPU is based on first-gen Xe.

To be clear, DG1 isn't Alchemist; instead, it uses the original Xe architecture that served as a test run for the Xe-HPG arch underlying Alchemist. It's difficult to say how much of the actual driver code the two different architectures would share, and it's possible that the DG1 driver hasn't been receiving the benefits of the work to prepare for Alchemist.

Either way, if this news is accurate then the delay is disappointing for those of us that were counting on the cards to help ease the grotesquely-swollen graphics card prices that still plague the PC gaming community. Still, the wisdom of Shigeru Miyamoto applies to products besides video games: an unfinished release is forever bad, while a delayed release could eventually be good. Let's just hope Alchemist is still competitive by the time it comes out.