Intel Sending Out Arc GPUs To Odyssey Card Holders And Intel Insiders For Testing

Usman Pirzada

In a vein that reminds us of the AMD Red Team of old and AMD Vanguard Beta Testers, Intel has started interacting deeply with the community most loyal to its graphics cards and shows just how serious it is about slowly building up its graphics legacy. Old odyssey card holders (now there's a name we haven't heard in a while) and select members of the Intel Insider discord community received Intel Arc A7 GPUs under an ILA (indefinite loan agreement) for the purpose of, well, just using them and reporting back any bugs.

Intel recruits members of its community for mass testing of its Arc A7 lineup with free, indefinitely loaned, GPUs

As hardware reviewers, we are intimately familiar with ILAs; basically any hardware unit you receive which is yours to keep for future testing comes under an indefinite loan agreement. The item stays "loaned" forever and you can essentially completely destroy it (as long as its in the name of science) but it will stay the property of the manufacturer for legal purposes. Intel started its Arc marketing in the early days under the Odyssey campaign and people who physically attended select Odyssey events were given a special card (whose purpose was supposed to remain a mystery).

Now it seems, the mystery is solved. Select Odyssey card holders (presumably the earliest ones) have received offers to receive an Intel Arc A7 GPU completely free of cost (Intel will even bear all duties and taxes) under an ILA - in return for just using it as a daily driver and helping them out with reporting bugs.

When we learned that Odyssey card holders were being contacted, we reached out to Intel and they made the following comments. Unfortunately, they refrained from confirming (or denying) whether this constituted a revival (or continuation or climax) of the Odyssey campaign:

"As we hit the major milestone with the launch of our Arc A7 desktop GPUs, we are celebrating it with the community that has been there with us. We have valued their continued support, enthusiasm, and feedback from the start. " - Intel Spokesperson

As you may remember, Intel also started a new community program during the scavenger hunt, called 'Intel Insiders' and based on our conversations with people who received these cards, the vast majority are actually part of the Intel Insiders community (which is hosted primarily on Discord). Based on our admittedly limited sample, the vast majority of people who received these cards got them through the Intel Insiders program - and not from being an Odyssey card holder.

Intel's Intel Insider's page lists the program benefits as such:

  • Showcase opportunities at industry events, video spotlights and Intel social chanels
  • Sponsorships in key interest areas, including speakerships, meetups, and exhibits
  • Technical support with access to focus leads, product teams, private forums, and productivity software experts
  • Early information under NDA, with access to the latest technologies, subject matter experts and other resources
  • Access to Intel® Arc and more for select innovative projects

A thriving and loyal community is the key to the growth of any PC IHV. AMD is the best example of the fruits of such labor and the Intel Insider Discord already has tens of thousands of members that are participating in the various feedback channels. Combined with iterative improvements to the driver stack coming from Intel and features like DXVK that can provide overnight performance improvements to the graphics cards, Intel seems to be pulling no punches when it comes to finding - and removing - bugs in its first ever attempt at building a mainstream graphics card lineup.

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