Saturday, May 21, 2022

Intel unveils its first Arc A-series GPUs for laptops

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Way back in 2018, Intel announced plans to develop its own line of discrete GPUs designed to compete with rival cards from AMD and NVIDIA. And despite several delays, including missing the original 2020 launch window, this spring the first batch of Intel’s new Arc graphics cards will finally be ready for use in retail devices, starting with Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 Pro laptops.

In a nutshell, while Intel’s Arc line will eventually cover both laptops and desktops, the first batch of A-series GPUs are lower-powered cards, primarily for ultraportable and thin-and-light notebooks. The company’s graphics cards will use a naming scheme similar to that of the CPUs to differentiate between different levels of performance, starting with the new Arc A350M and A370M, before moving on to the more powerful Arc 5 and Arc 7 cards. due out sometime later this year. summer.


Across the entire family of Arc GPUs, Intel’s graphics architecture is based on four main pillars: the company’s XE cores, XE Media Engine, XE Display Engine, and the XE Graphics Pipeline. All Arc cards also share the same basic features, including support for DirectX 12 Ultimate, ray tracing, XE Super Sampling, AV1 hardware acceleration and more.

The Arc’s XE cores are based on Intel’s XE HPG (High Performance Graphics) microarchitecture, with each core equipped with 16 256-bit Vector Engines. 16 1,024-bit Matrix Engines and 192 KB of shared memory. The XE Media Engine is designed to support popular video apps with hardware encoding up to 8K 10-bit HDR and hardware acceleration for a number of popular standards (VP9, AVC, HEVC, AV1). Meanwhile, the XE Display Engine is built to handle video output for up to two 8K displays at 60 Hz simultaneously, four 4K displays at 120 Hz, or a single 1440p display at 360 Hz.

Intel's new A-series GPUs will have a similar naming scheme to the company's CPUs, with lower-power Arc 3 GPUs available now, followed by higher-performance Arc 5 and Arc 7 cards due out later this summer.


As for the two new cards themselves, both the A350M and A370M target 1080p gaming at 60fps to 90fps in a range of popular games. The A350M is designed to draw between 25 and 35 watts of power and will use six XE cores, six ray tracing units, a graphics clock of 1150 MHz (which Intel believes is a conservative estimate of the card’s typical clock speed). and have 4 GB GDDR6. vRAM. Alternatively, the A370M is designed for slightly larger laptops with power consumption between 35 and 50 watts, eight XE cores, 8 ray tracing units, a graphics clock of 1,550 MHz and the same 4 GB of vRAM. And as you can see in the image above, the upcoming Arc 5 and Arc 7 cards will be significantly more powerful. But again, they won’t be out until sometime in early summer.

According to an infographic from Intel, the new Arc 3 GPUs should offer a significant performance boost compared to Iris XE integrated graphics


In addition to the new GPUs, Intel has also created a software suite called Arc Control, similar to NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience and AMD’s Radeon Software, designed to allow users to more easily monitor performance, install drivers and updates, record game highlights. and even connect to live streaming apps like Xsplit. And thanks to a user interface that uses a streamlined overlay, Intel’s Arc Control should be easily accessible in the middle of a fight.

Intel says it is working even more closely with developers to provide faster and more responsive driver support for new titles, with featured games on the Arc cards, including titles such as Elden RingGhostwire: Tokyodolmen and much more. And as one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world, Intel has also created its Deep Link technology designed to give its Arc cards an additional performance boost when they work together with Intel’s built-in integrated graphics.

Intel's new A-Serci Arc GPUs will include a number of next-gen features, including AV1 hardware acceleration, Intel's new XE cores and more.


So while we’re only getting two new Arc cards at the moment (and relatively power efficient cards), today marks a significant moment as Intel finally becomes the true third horse in the discrete graphics space. The first retail device to feature one of Intel’s A-series cards is Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 Pro, which goes on sale next month. However, Intel promises that there will soon be a slew of laptops with Arc GPUs from big names, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, MSI, Lenovo and others.

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