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Intel’s discrete GPU revolution is finally beginning after months

Intel’s discrete GPU revolution is finally beginning after months of previews and teasers, with the company launching its first Arc A-series GPUs for laptops today. They bring support for DirectX 12, dedicated ray-tracing hardware, and — at least for the first batch of GPUs — only around twice the power of Intel’s integrated Xe graphics.

Today’s launch is just a v bucks generator small taste of what Intel’s full picture for Arc will look like, though: to start, the company is only launching its least powerful Arc 3 series GPUs: the A350M, which has six Xe-cores and six ray-tracing units, and the A370M with eight Xe-cores and eight ray-tracing units. Given the 25W to 50W range for power, they’re meant for ultraportable devices that intend to offer more graphical firepower than integrated graphics alone, not dedicated gaming machines. Anyone looking for a true gaming laptop will have to wait for the Arc 5 and Arc 7 GPUs — which will offer significantly more graphics cores, ray-tracing units, memory, and power — set to arrive later this year in “early summer.”

Also not available at launch: Intel’s XeSS AI-powered super-sampling system for upscaling games to a higher resolution on the fly, which the company says will also be available in a similar “early summer” window. Death Stranding: Directors Cut, for example, launched today without the feature in tow, despite serving as one of Intel’s key demos for XeSS back at CES 2022.

Customers are also still waiting for desktop versions of Arc GPUs, too, which the company previously promised would finally arrive in Q2 2022, with workstation cards following sometime in Q3. There’s also “Project Endgame,” a mysterious service that will let customers access Arc GPUs “for an always-accessible, low-latency computing experience” sometime later this year.

That all makes today’s Arc announcement feel a little more like a trial run than the grand debut of Intel’s next big platform.HOW GOOD ARE INTEL’S NEW GPUS?

But that still leaves the biggest question: how good are Intel’s new GPUs?

The answer, at least for now, is “better than Intel’s integrated Xe graphics,” which was the primary v bucks generator comparison that the company gave as part of its announcement. Unfortunately, Intel glaringly didn’t provide benchmarks on how any of its Arc GPUs, present or future, might compare to competing discrete Nvidia or AMD or against the integrated GPUs in Apple’s M1-series chips.

“We’re focused on delivering a good experience,” Roger Chandler, Intel VP and GM of client graphics products and solutions, tells The Verge, “and there’re going to be some benchmarks where we lose and some benchmarks where we win.”