Intel Talks ARC Alchemist GPUs: TSMC 6nm Over Intel Fabs Due To Best Balance, XeSS Backwards Compatible & Partner ‘Custom’ Graphics Cards [Updated]


Update 9/21/2021: The article was updated to accomodate a retraction by for an incorrect quote of Raja Koduri.

Talking to ASCII.JP, Intel executives including Raja Koduri talked about the upcoming ARC Alchemist GPU lineup and the respective graphics cards.

Intel Says The Main Reason To Select TSMC Over Its Own Fab For ARC Alchemist GPUs Was Due To It Offering The Best Balance

Intel talked a lot about its HPC and HPG graphics architectures which include Ponte Vecchio & ARC GPUs. We will start off with the details for the Intel ARC GPUs since most of the Ponte Vecchio GPU details are already known.

Intel Xe-HPG Scavenger Hunt Gives A Hint At ARC Alchemist Graphics Card Prices – Premium Variant Around $700 US, Performance Variant Around $600 US

The first thing that's talked about is why Intel chose TSMC over its own Fabs to manufacturer ARC GPUs. The reason stated is that during the development of ARC GPUs for the gaming segment, the top priority was given to the process that offered a good manufacturing capacity.

Raja said the factors considered for whether it’s internal or external manufacturing is based on three factors – performance, cost and capacity. He did not comment that Intel did not have sufficient capacity for advanced nodes.

Other characteristics such as the operating frequency and cost were also factored in & the company decided it was the best to outsource the manufacturing to TSMC as its N6 (6nm) node offered the best balance.

For the next generation, similar considerations will be taken into account again and whether we see Intel return to its own Fabs for the production of ARC Battlemage GPUs or outsource them to TSMC's on its N5 or N4 node remains to be seen.

Intel Xe-HPG ARC Alchemist GPUs To Offer More Than 32 Xe Cores?

Intel’s ARC Alchemist Graphics Card Rumors Point To Three GPUs Aiming High-End & Entry-Level Gaming Market, Top Die Close To RTX 3070 Ti

Intel also states that its Xe-HPG architecture is very scalable. That was their response to whether the 8-slice Xe-HPG ARC Alchemist GPU shown to the press was the flagship 32 Xe-Core config so it looks like we can get a higher-end SKU sometime in the future but we know for sure that the two chips coming in Q1 2022 are going to offer 32 and 8 Xe cores, respectively.

Intel has so far shown its 8 Render slice with 32 Xe Cores to be the flagship ARC Alchemist GPU configurations.

There's no set number of maximum or minimum Xe Render slices confirmed yet but what's known is that they will depend entirely on the application, whether it be a desktop or mobility aimed SKU.

Intel ARC Alchemist vs NVIDIA GA104 & AMD Navi 22 GPUs

GPU NameAlchemist DG-512NVIDIA GA104AMD Navi 22
ArchitectureXe-HPGAmpereRDNA 2
Process NodeTSMC 6nmSamsung 8nmTSMC 7nm
Flagship ProductARC (TBA)GeForce RTX 3070 TiRadeon RX 6700 XT
Raster Engine862
FP32 Cores32 Xe Cores48 SM Units40 Compute Units
FP32 Units409661442560
FP32 Compute~16 TFLOPs21.7 TFLOPs12.4 TFLOPs
RT Cores32 RT Units48 RT Cores (V2)40 RA Units
Tensor Cores512 XMX Cores192 Tensor Cores (V3)N/A
Tensor Compute~131 TFLOPs FP16
~262 TOPs INT8
87 TFLOPs FP16
174 TOPs INT8
25 TFLOPs FP16
50 TOPs INT8
L2 CacheTBA4 MB3 MB
Additional Cache16 MB Smart Cache?N/A96 MB Infinity Cache
Memory Bus256-bit256-bit192-bit
Memory Capacity16 GB GDDR68 GB GDDR6X16 GB GDDR6
LaunchQ1 2022Q2 2021Q1 2021

Intel ARC Already Has A Reference Graphics Card Design But Partners Open To Custom Models

Coming to an important question about the ARC Desktop graphics cards, it looks like Intel has already shipped its reference design to its partners. According to the interview, Intel is currently investigating if it's worth launching a reference-only flavor similar to NVIDIA's Founders Edition or allows partners (ODMs) to manufacturer their own custom variants. The latter seems to be what Intel is more inclining towards but we have already seen the reference design so both options are open for Intel.

Intel XeSS Is Backwards Compatible With DG1 'Xe-LP' & 11th Gen CPUs

XeSS has been one of the most interesting technologies of the upcoming Xe-HPG ARC graphics lineup. We talked with Intel about XeSS in our own exclusive interview over here & Intel has now confirmed that the technology will be backward compatible with both Xe-LP-based DG1 GPUs & iGPUs on the 11th Gen Tiger Lake GPUs.

Intel also wants to leverage the workstation and content creation market with its Xe-HPG GPUs in applications such as 3DSMax where they can give NVIDIA's Quadro and AMD Radeon PRO graphics cards some tough competition. It is specifically stated that Intel's ARC GPUs can offer great graphics performance within content creation and development applications.

Intel also emphasized the driver release and how it plans to release them on regular basis and new releases every time a major title is a launch. The company has gone on a major hiring spree for its graphics division, acquiring renowned names from the industry over the last couple of weeks.

No Multi-GPU Solution Like Xe-Link To Be Offered on ARC Gaming Graphics Cards

There was some speculation regarding the Xe-Link technology and how it could be used to run the ARC graphics cards in multi-GPU configurations however Intel has confirmed that the tech is only made for the Xe-HPC Ponte Vecchio GPUs and won't be featured on the standard gaming lineup.

Based on the timeline, the Xe-HPG Alchemist lineup will compete against NVIDIA's Ampere & AMD RDNA 2 GPUs since both companies aren't expected to launch their next-gen parts by the very end of 2022. The Xe-HPG ARC GPUs will be coming to the mobility platform too and will be featured in Alder Lake-P notebooks.

What do you want to see in Intel's ARC Alchemist Gaming graphics card lineup?