At the Intel ON in-house fair, Intel couldn't avoid a status update on Arc – and ticked off the topic in a blog post the evening before. The message: Arc for PCs is further delayed. Only the smallest class, the A3, will be launched in the second quarter – in China via OEMs and system integrators. A5 and A7 are to follow “later in the summer”.
In this case, too, OEMs and system integrators (SI), i.e. dealers who assemble computers, should be supplied first. Only then will the graphics cards be sold separately via retailers, according to Intel.
It will be later again
The Arc product launch has been more than bumpy so far: It was originally said that notebook and desktop graphics cards would be released at the end of 2021. Then the first quarter of 2022 was the goal, until Intel made it clear at an event on March 30, 2022: Only the variants for notebooks were officially presented in the first quarter, desktop graphics cards should follow “in the summer”. To date, only the Intel Arc A370M is available in a notebook from Samsung in South Korea, for which the first reasonably reliable benchmarks have been published this week.
At Intel ON, there is now a de facto admission that “in the summer of 2022” the entry-level A3 series for gaming PCs will first appear – and initially only via OEMs and SI in China. By autumn, however, there will probably be no Intel Arc A5 and Arc A7 for desktops in traditional retail. This would disrupt the schedule for the performance, which had been pushed back several times. But this was already expected in the past few weeks.
We will release our entry-level Intel Arc A-series products for desktops (A3) first in China through system builders and OEMs in Q2. Etail and retail component sales will follow shortly in China as well. Proximity to board components and strong demand for entry-level discrete products makes this a natural place to start. Our next step will be to scale these products globally.
Roll-out of Intel Arc A5 and A7 desktop cards will start worldwide with OEMs and system integrators later this summer, followed by component sales in worldwide channels.
Software problems and COVID-19
At least Intel confirms that there were or still are software problems (in the case of graphics cards, this primarily means driver problems). This has been the dominant rumor for a long time and is also being discussed in the ComputerBase community as the major weakness at Intel. The problem: Even if the raw performance is right, the big question mark remains as to whether the performance can also be converted into FPS by the drivers in games.
With a view to the continued sluggish start of Arc in notebooks, Intel cites another reason why there are no other variants on the market besides the Samsung notebook to date: the COVID situation in China has not helped to improve availability. Starting this month, however, more notebooks with a discrete Arc graphics card are to become available. But even this is only about the small Arc-A3xx solutions that are to be made available by Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, HP and Asus. For faster variants, Intel also calls the period “summer” in this case.
It's been a mess …
Another delay ultimately fits into the overall picture that Arc's product launch has drawn so far. Starting with the “big” solutions in late summer and autumn, when both AMD and Nvidia will probably present the next generation, is probably the worst possible time. The focus on OEMs and system integrators (SI) could still help to sell these cards, but the retail market should only be a sideshow.