Alleged Intel Arc Battlemage Details Suggest A High-End Battle Royale With AMD And NVIDIA

Intel Arc Graphics Card Concept
Inside sources at Intel are apparently hyper-confident that the company's Arc graphics will prove a formidable opponent to AMD and NVIDIA, and yes, that includes at the top of the stack. That probably won't happen with Alchemist, which is targeting more mainstream performance levels, but Battlemage could be when Arc really hits its stride.

For anyone who has not been following, Intel is embarking on an odyssey to deliver its first discrete graphics products since Larrabee was shelved over a decade ago. Intel will crash the discrete graphics party in early 2022 with Alchemist, which is its first-generation Arc product. Rumor has it Alchemist will offer performance roughly on par with a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti.

That would be a successful launch if Intel can pull it off. We'll have to wait and see. Officially, however, we know Alchemist will arrive with hardware support for real-time ray tracing, as well as mesh shading and variable rate shading. Intel also confirmed Alchemist will boast 32 Xe cores, each of which will have 16 vector engines. Some simple math tells us we're looking at 512 vector engines in total.

Intel has showed some brief demos of Alchemist in action, like running Rift Breaker upscaled from 1080p to 4K utilizing its XeSS technology. But actual performance metrics will have to wait until Alchemist hits the ground running.

Intel Arc Battlemage Slide
Now here's where things get even more interesting. Prominent leaker Moore's Law Is Dead claims to have heard from reliable, long-terms sources (who supposedly have perfect or near-perfect track records) that Battlemage in 2023 will be when Intel truly competes at the high end, going up against Ada Lovelace (NVIDIA) and RDNA 3 (AMD).

You can see the highlights in the slide above, but the general takeaway is that Intel has every intention of going after the performance crown, and expects to make a spirited run with Battlemage. Intel is also highly confident that Arc is in great shape, according to the unnamed sources. This is a point that multiple sources are said to have conveyed.

There are some other interesting tidbits, too. According to one of the sources, Intel is focused on beefing up its driver stack with Alchemist. Driver development is an underappreciated aspect of graphics cards, as it can make or break the experience, in terms of reliability and optimized performance. It's critical that Intel gets this part right, and it seems to understand that.

Once it gets in a groove with driver design, the focus will shift to supporting Battlemage, and then the real race is on. If all goes to plan, Intel purportedly expects to outpace NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace by the middle of 2023. As for AMD, Intel is supposedly less concerned at the moment because of AMD's supply chain struggles, or so the story goes.

Time will tell how it all actually plays out, but in the meantime, it's nice to hear (even if unofficially) that Intel has a solid game plan in place for Arc.