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What just happened? After multiple delays, Intel finally launched its Arc Alchemist graphics cards for desktops and laptops in 2022. The company has now confirmed that its next-gen Xe2 Battlemage GPUs could launch later this year, followed by Xe3 Celestial in the near future.
The confirmation came this week during an interview with PCWorld, where Intel's Tom Petersen said that the next-gen Arc GPUs will likely hit the market before CES 2025. While he did not offer a more specific timeframe, it is evident from Petersen's statement that the company is aiming for the H2 2024 launch window for the Battlemage lineup.
According to Petersen, the first set of Battlemage silicon is already being tested in the labs, with 30 percent of the Arc GPU team fine-tuning the software to get it ready for prime time. Meanwhile, most of the hardware engineers on the Arc team have already moved on to "the next thing," believed to be the Xe3 Celestial GPUs that are expected to succeed the Battlemage lineup.
Petersen did not reveal much about the upcoming cards but said that the company will share more details later this year. Earlier leaks, however, revealed some information about the Xe2-HPG (Battlemage) architecture, with one recent report claiming that they could be based on TSMC's N4 fabrication node and feature up to 56 Xe-Cores. They are also tipped to come with a next-gen memory subsystem and improved ray tracing acceleration.
The official confirmation of the Battlemage launch timeframe comes a few weeks after Intel unwittingly revealed its plans for its next-gen GPU lineup. During its Meteor Lake CPU launch in Japan last month, the company showed off a presentation slide that featured the image of a Battlemage graphics chip under a section earmarked "upcoming products" for 2024, marking the first time the company publicly revealed its Battlemage release plans.
The Alchemist launch in 2022 was a hot mess, plagued by delays and buggy drivers that did not play nice with DirectX 11 and DirectX 9 games. While subsequent updates did improve performance, the damage was done, and Alchemist failed to compete on even terms against established offerings from Nvidia and AMD. Intel will be hoping that Battlemage (and Celestial) will have better luck in the driver department and not have any of the software gremlins that bugged their Alchemist counterparts.