Release dates are hard to trust these days, but Intel says its Arc series of discrete desktop graphics cards will arrive in the next few months, as promised.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who recently gave a troubling prediction about chip supply shortages, said late last week that the company’s desktop graphics cards would release in Q2, meaning sometime before July. He said more SKUs would arrive later in the year, suggesting the first batch of desktop cards would be released in waves, echoing the mobile launch.
“AXG [Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group] is on track. And we launched the mobile SKUs. We’ll have the desktop SKUs coming in Q2. And we’ll have more SKUs as we go through the year as well. We’ll be filling out the product line,” Gelsinger said in a financial call, as PC Gamer reports.
Earlier this month, Intel released its Arc 3 mobile graphics card while teasing Arc 5 and Arc 7 cards. Arc 3 promises 2x performance over integrated graphics and acts as the company’s entry-level cards for ultra-thin laptops not meant exclusively for gaming. They are supposedly shipping to laptop makers Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and others, though actual products with Arc 3 are hard to find right now (and the few that exist are rather expensive).
When they debut later this year, Arc 5 cards will be for mainstream gaming laptops while Arc 7 is meant to take on the best of AMD and Nvidia in the premium gaming segment. We’ll learn more about the two high-end cards in the coming months.
On the desktop side of things, Intel said the first GPUs would arrive this summer as a “limited edition” release. The card was revealed in a hype video, but we weren’t privy to any specs or performance benchmarks. All we know is that the component contains a dual-fan cooling system and has a sleek design with chrome trim (sadly, it’s not blue).
Interestingly, Gelsinger said in his financial call that there will be three versions: 5, 7, and 9—rather than 3, 5, and 7 as we expected. If we had to guess, these cards could be positioned as direct competitors to the RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080 in terms of pricing.
We may be in the midst of a chip supply shortage that has frequently halted the consumer tech industry, but Gelsinger suggests the bottleneck at Intel is more about software than hardware. When asked about a timeline for desktop graphics, Gelsinger said Intel is currently working to qualify and optimize individual games and reaching out to OEMs to “populate their portfolios of products.”
It’s important to keep our expectations in check. Intel reentering the desktop GPU market after a two-decade hiatus is exciting stuff, but the company will need time to ramp up. It’s possible a single desktop SKU launches in the coming months followed by a trickle of additional versions thereafter.