Intel Launches Arc for Mobile

Posted on March 30, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Hardware, Mobile with 4 Comments

Intel announced today that its first Arc mobile discrete graphics products are now available, offering up to 50 times the video encoding and decoding performance of Iris Xe integrated graphics.

“These are the first discrete GPUs to arrive from the Intel Arc A-Series graphics portfolio that will span laptops, desktops, and workstations this year,” an Intel datasheet notes. “Intel highlighted the Arc A-Series mobile graphics family, the first laptops with Arc GPUs, and the Arc graphics platform of hardware, software, and services that will enable high-performance graphics experiences for gamers and creators around the world.”

Intel Arc 3 graphics chipsets are available now and deliver over 60 fps at 1080p in a range of popular videogame titles, Intel claims, along with advanced content creation capabilities. Arc 5 and Arc 7 graphics products will offer increased graphics and computing performance when they become available in the coming months thanks to more Xe-cores, more Ray Tracing Units, and more GDDR6 memory compared with Arc 3.

All Intel Arc A-Series GPUs are built on Intel’s new Xe High Performance Graphics (Xe HPG) microarchitecture, which was designed specifically for gamers and creators. They include Xe performance cores with integrated Intel Xe Matrix Extensions (XMX) AI engines, video acceleration including the first-ever AV1 hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding, support for high refresh rate HDR displays using the latest standards (including Display Port 2.0 10G for uncompressed 4K at 120 Hz), and DirectX 12 Ultimate capabilities.

The first laptops with Arc 3 graphics are available to preorder now, with Arc 5 and Arc 7 laptops coming in early summer. Many of these systems will be Intel Evo-branded and will ship with 12th-Gen Intel Core processors with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and certified battery life.

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Comments (4)

4 responses to “Intel Launches Arc for Mobile”

  1. CasualAdventurer

    This reads like a press release; what does it all mean? Other than faster refresh rates and quicker video display what does this offer? How is this useful to creators? Is the AV1 hardware encoding/decoding meant to compare with the Mac M1 ability to do likewise with ProRes video files? If so, what are the differences? How are they the same? Will this improve battery life on laptops?

    • F4IL

      AV1 compares to H264 while competing directly with HEVC rather than ProRes. Creators authoring their content to AV1 would benefit from superior encoding / decoding performance from ARC's media engine thanks to the included silicon. Given how intensive software AV1 encoding is at this stage, either using ffmpeg with the reference libaom encoder or the svt-av1 encoder from intel / netflix, a media engine with a hardware encoder / decoder provides real benefits especially if one veers into 4K and beyond.

      Apparently, the marketing material accompanying today's launch mostly outlines the new architecture with regards to rendering, display and media but does little to demonstrate benchmark results or give any real numbers. Those will come later.

    • dftf

      In short, AV1 is a new video-codec and one which is royalty-free, as many of the big players came-together to ensure it would be. By Intel adding support for it at the hardware-level, that device will be able to play that format more-efficiently than an app having to decode the video by constantly issuing software-commands to a CPU. (Many CPUs or GPUs currently offer hardware-level decoding for H.264, and AV1 is where the big-companies want to move-to, rather-than H.265 to avoid the fees).

      So in short, once YouTube uses AV1, for example, you'll find that higher quality settings don't become choppy on devices where it can be decoded at a hardware-level, whereas devices without that support will still be able to play it, but might struggle to maintain the framerate at higher settings, or when you play the video at a faster speed (such as the "2x" setting). Also, for video-editing apps, import and export of AV1 format will also get done quicker.

  2. Sykeward

    Some nuance is needed here: The Arc offers up to 50x the performance of software encoding using the AV1 codec (which is new and has limited hardware support), not 50x the performance of the Iris Xe. General encoding does appear to be faster, with one demo showing a 2x improvement over the Xe and a mode where integrated Xe and Arc graphics can work together to speed up some encoding tasks by 3x. In terms of gaming , it looks like Arc is 20%-40% faster than Xe based on the selections of games that Intel chose, but it was hard to tell because they used the shady y-axis graphs that are all the rage now when it comes to describing compute performance.