Intel had introduced its first graphics chips in March this year, and now it has unveiled its first dedicated true professional graphics cards at the Siggraph computer graphics show. Of the three models based on the Arc Alchemist architecture, one is the Arc Pro A30M mobile GPU for use in notebooks, and the two one- and two-slot-wide compact PCIe 4.0 x8 plug-in cards, the Arc Pro A40 and A50, are for half-height desktop PCs.
Intel&s Arc Pro graphics cards
All three models feature integrated ray tracing hardware, machine learning capabilities and - as a unique selling point - are the first graphics cards to offer hardware-accelerated encoding of Google&s open-source AV1 codec, the license-free alternative to H.265/HEVC. This very CPU-intensive encoding is also already supported together with the H.265 codec in Intel&s Alder Lake CPUs of the 11th generation via the integrated Xe graphics unit. The ARC Pro A40 and A50 graphics cards with 4.8 and 3.5 TFLOPs performance, respectively, have a relatively small graphics memory with 6 GB GDDR6 and manage with 50 and 75 watts, respectively - they therefore don&t need an extra PCIe power connection.
Intel Arc Pro A40
The performance of the new Pro models, manufactured in 6-nanometer technology, is aimed at the entry-level workstation sector and is therefore not (yet) a real competitor for Nvidia&s and AMD&s top models. For the time being, they will only be used in fully configured workstations later this year and won&t be available individually, which is why Intel hasn&t named any prices yet.
Intel ARC display options
The Intel Arc Pro A desktop models have four mini DisplayPorts with the help of which four monitors with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels each with 60 fps or two 8K monitors with 7,680 x 4,320 and 60 fps can be addressed. HDR playback via Dolby Vision is also supported. The integrated AV1 encoding is supported by the Handbrake encoder tool as well as Adobe Premiere Pro and Blackmagic&s DaVinci Resolve video editing programs. The built-in AI hardware acceleration can be used in conjunction with Video Enhance and Gigapixel AI from Topaz, as well as by the Sensei AI functions in Premiere.
Another special feature is Intel&s Hyper Compute and Hyper Encode functions, which, on systems with an Intel Arc GPU and an Intel CPU with integrated GPU, make it possible to use both the CPU and the iGPU and external GPU for encoding or AI calculations, for example.
Intel&s Arc Pro graphics cards
However, the driver situation could prove problematic for the use of Intel&s Arc (Pro) CPUs - while Intel assures that the Arc Pro A GPUs are certified for leading professional software applications in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction as well as design and manufacturing, and also Blender, and that they support DirectX 12 Ultimate, Vulkan, OpenCL and OneAPI interfaces, on the other hand there are still numerous problems with the Arc (A380) GPUs that have already been released so far. It will therefore be interesting to see if the Arc Pro models use better drivers. And of course, how the new Intel GPUs compare to the current GPU models (and the upcoming next generation) from Nvidia and AMD. more infos at bei www.intel.com