Intel Readies Discrete GPU Onslaught With Q2 Launch Set For Desktop Arc Alchemist Cards

Intel graphics card concept
The first desktop Arc Alchemist graphics cards will arrive in time for summer, barring any last minute snags. Intel confirmed as much ahead of an investor meeting scheduled for this evening, saying desktop add-in cards based on Alchemist will ship in the second quarter, followed by professional models for workstations in the third quarter. Laptop variants will arrive any time now (first quarter).

While we still do not have a precise release date, this is the most detailed Intel has been with regards to when its first discrete GPUs of the modern era will permeate the market. Intel's fiscal quarters pretty much coincide with calendar quarters, so a Q2 launch could fall anywhere from the beginning of April to the end of June. Summer officially begins on June 21.

Intel is entering the discrete GPU market at a time when graphic cards are immensely hot commodities. Even budget cards command prices well above MSRP by marketplace sellers and at outlets like eBay and Craigslist. Retail vendors, meanwhile, have been cashing in as well with forced bundles and membership subscriptions. For example, Best Buy recently held a Founders Edition restock event, but it was exclusive to Totaltech members that paid for a $200 annual subscription (and that was just for a chance to buy a card).

The market desperately needs a third player, now more so than any previous time we can recall. A confluence of factors have made it frustrating to try and build or upgrade a gaming PC. Cryptocurrency mining, a global shortage of silicon, new generation console launches, and opportunistic scalpers have all played a role in demand severely outstripping supply.

We're curious to see what impact Intel's entry into the discrete GPU space has on the landscape as a whole. We won't know for several more months, though today said it expects to ship more than 4 million discrete GPUs by the end of the year.

That includes both laptop and desktop, but even still, meeting that goal in a nine-month span would both be impressive and cut into the shortage. However, it's not entirely clear if all of those will be discrete GPUs for gaming, or also include Intel's upcoming mining accelerators, which fall under the purview of its newly minted Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group (AXG).

Either way, Intel expects to rake in more than $1 billion in AXG revenue in 2022, and $10 billion by 2026 (figures that include sales from its data center and supercomputer GPUs like Ponte Vecchio, too). That suggests it is confident it can compete with AMD and NVIDIA. Intel also said architectural work has already begun on Celestial, the second successor to Alchemist (after Battlemage) that is aimed at the "ultra-enthusiast segment," and plans to a launch a cloud GPU service of some sort called Project Endgame.

"Project Endgame will enable users to access Intel Arc GPUs through a service for an always-accessible, low-latency computing experience. Project Endgame will be available later this year," Intel said.

We can hardly wait for all this to finally come to fruition.