The first leaked Intel Alchemist GPU benchmark provides some pre-Christmas cheer

If there is any savior on the horizon for the current chip crisis, it is the hope that Intel can break the duopoly of Nvidia and AMD with some competitive graphics cards.

Intel’s first gaming GPUs won’t launch until early 2022, according to information from Intel’s Architecture Day. They are not expected to compete with higher-end RTX 3090 or RX 6900 XT cards from AMD or Nvidia, but given how expensive those cards are, that’s not very important to most gamers.

Instead, what will really make a difference is whether Intel’s inaugural Alchemist GPUs can compete in the mid-range market. The first benchmark: using the certainly obsolete Ashes of the singularity – indicates that it could. TUM_APISAK posted a photo on Twitter from an Intel GPU being tested with an Intel i9-12900K, averaging 126.9 fps across the benchmark.

There are many reasons to take this with caution. Apart from being an outdated game, Ashes of the singularity It has long been used more for stress testing CPUs. (Being a real-time strategy game, it is considered more demanding on the CPU given the amount of calculations that PCs have to do to figure out the movements, physics, and impact of each individual unit.)

We also don’t know specifically which GPU on the Intel stack was being tested here. While the benchmark says “Intel Xe Graphics,” the performance makes it immediately obvious that it is one of Intel’s discrete GPUs and not the Xe integrated graphics found in recent laptops. That was reinforced by a follow-up tweet from TUM_APISAK, which showed that Intel’s benchmark brought it in line with other tests performed with a RX 5700, RX 6700 XT, RTX 3080, and RTX 3080 Ti. (The fact that all those GPUs are returning similar figures, however, shows why mortal remains not the most common benchmark available).

There are other caveats here too. Pre-launch benchmarks like this appear for CPUs and GPUs all the time, as benchmarks are accidentally (or intentionally) loaded into global leaderboards. It is common for engineers to run hardware prototypes through tools such as Cinebench or 3D Mark, and images of game benchmarks such as Total War: Three Kingdoms, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the Far away series o Division 2, often reaches the network before a piece of hardware is released.

But the hardware here isn’t final, and neither are your drivers. Drivers alone can provide surprisingly huge improvements in performance, as users discover all the time. They will be especially important when it comes to testing real-time ray tracing or enabling Intel AI-powered upscaling, but the mortal remains The above test does not provide any additional clarity on Intel’s ability there.

Still, it’s positive to see that the Intel Alchemist GPU at least mirrors an RTX 3070 Ti here, or a Radeon RX 5700, depending on whether you’re a person with a glass half full or half empty. But what’s more important is Intel’s positioning here. The vast majority of gamers buy mid-range GPUs; that’s why the GTX 1060 is still the most widely used GPU on Steam. If Intel can provide something that offers a considerable upgrade over the GTX 1060, GTX 1650, or even the RTX 2060, and the price is competitive enough, then the GPU market could get really interesting next year.

November Steam Hardware Survey Results. Note that the first 30 series card to appear is actually a laptop GPU. Image: Steam / Valve

Three Intel GPUs for gaming will launch in 2022: an entry-level offering, a mid-range offering, and something aimed at the high-end. According to Intel Architecture Day, only the entry-level Alchemist GPU received the Q1 2022 release date. But even if these results come from Intel’s top-of-the-line super-secret gaming GPU, the ability to Intel to manufacture and guarantee its own supply remains a great victory for consumers, as long as everything is priced to match. (And since Intel is the one trying to break into the dominant duopoly of Nvidia and AMD, it would be a surprise if the company didn’t compete aggressively on price.)

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