Intel recently discontinued its direct sales of AIBs for its Arc graphics cards, leading to speculations and mixed reactions. The company issued a notice stating that June 20 marked the final date for orders and shipments of Intel-manufactured Arc A770 AIBs. Intel’s foray into the discrete GPU market has faced challenges from the start, including leadership changes and product rebranding. Although the AIB discontinuation may hint at future changes and reduced emphasis, it does not necessarily impact Intel’s broader plans for the Arc platform. Despite these developments, Intel is still expected to release its second-generation Arc graphics GPU, Battlemage, next year.
When Intel introduced its line of AIBs, it sold them directly to distributors, retailers, PC builders, and later to OEM AIB partners like Acer, ASRock, and more recently, Sparkle. Intel only made the 16GB version of the Arc A770; the 8GB models were made by partners.
On June 20, Intel released a product change notification (PCN) on the AIB that said under Key Characteristics, “Product Discontinuance.” Needless to say, a lot of people got excited about that. All the haters said told you so, all the fans said oh, no.
The notice (which as of this writing is at the top of Intel’s PCN list) says June 20 was the final date for both orders and shipments. That notifies Intel’s customers that the company will not take any more orders for Intel-manufactured Arc A770 AIBs, and also that the final shipments have been made.
Intel’s venture into the discrete GPU market has been problematic from the beginning. When word got out that the company was going to enter the market, the icing on the cake was snagging Raja Koduri from AMD, and several other prominent AMD people like Chris Hook and GPU architect Vineet Goel. That was followed by the hirings of Ryan Shrout and Tom Petersen from Nvidia. In the second half of December 2022, Intel announced it was splitting up its graphics group to separately address the gaming and data center markets by placing it under two other business units. And in March 2023, Koduri left Intel to start his own company. Intel then appointed Deepak Patil as head of the graphics group.
The company changed the branding, the road map, and specifications over the past six years. And the products proved to be mediocre to good, but not great. The pro side announced a brand change and new product, shipped the much-touted Ponte Vecchio, and promoted oneAPI.
The dGPU adventure has been confused, suffered from mission creep, and lacked synchronization between engineering and marketing. This latest change isn’t a big deal per se but could be an indicator of future changes and reductions in staff and emphasis—needless to say, Intel has a lot of fires to put out, and the dGPU group is probably one of the least important.
However, we still expect the introduction of Intel’s second-generation Arc graphics GPU, known as Battlemage, in the coming year. At present, there is no indication that the cancellation of the Intel Arc AIB has any bearing on Intel’s overarching strategy for the Arc platform.